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Exeter City Council’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery to exhibit Covid-19 commission by artist Amy Shelton, funded by Arts Council England

The Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery (RAMM) announces an exhibition of work by Exeter-based artist Amy Shelton entitled Biophilia: The Exeter Florilegium. The exhibition will feature Shelton’s commission for RAMM, made in response to the Covid-19 lockdown.

Shelton’s commission, The Exeter Florilegium (2021), includes a herbarium of pressed plant and wildflower specimens compiled on her daily lockdown walks around Exeter in spring and summer 2020. This new artwork also includes flower contributions from staff and patients from the Royal Devon & Exeter hospital, as well as specimens from the gardens of people self-isolating. A moving snapshot of people’s personal experiences of the first lockdown, Shelton’s commission documents an unprecedented time when many people looked to nature and green space for wellbeing and respite.

The exhibition will also feature Shelton’s artwork The Herald of Spring (2021), made from preserved springtime plants and flora found along the River Exe, Exeter Ship Canal and Exe Estuary. Celebrating local biodiversity and the cycles of nature, her work will be complemented by items from RAMM’s collection belonging to Devon’s renowned botanist and illustrator William Keble Martin.

Amy Shelton says: ‘I’m delighted to be exhibiting my work at RAMM, particularly my Covid-19 commission, which tells a unique story of the pandemic in Exeter and will be both an elegy to the losses and a tribute to the healing power of nature. I think this exhibition will reflect the rich culture of the plants that are grown around this city, as well as the ways that people came together to help each other and reassess the importance of being outside and of nature.’

Lara Goodband, Contemporary Art Curator at RAMM says: ‘Amy’s work is beautiful – she has created a stunning artwork from wildflowers and weeds that are so often overlooked. These emotionally-charged artworks related to the pandemic also engage with our ecological and climate crises, responding to this unprecedented time by highlighting the value of biodiversity for wellbeing.’

Shelton’s proposal was selected by open competition from a range of submissions from artists living or working in Exeter by the selection panel: Peter Randall-Page, sculptor; Julien Parsons, Head of Collections at RAMM; and Lara Goodband. Her commission is funded by Arts Council England.

Biophilia: The Exeter Florilegium by Amy Shelton will be shown in Gallery 20 at RAMM from 18 September to 21 November 2021 alongside Breathe, a photographic series by artist Michelle Sank.