Forestry Commission Scotland helps paint a picture of the past

Bookmark and Share Nod tudalen & Rhannu

This news story is now over a year old and information may no longer be accurate or up-to-date. It might also contain obsolete links.
Please use our search link on the left to look for more recent information.

People from across Glasgow’s multicultural community came together to celebrate a 200-year-old old link between Scotland and India.

The event, ‘If You Can Paint One Leaf, You Can Paint the World’, was arranged by Forestry Commission Scotland as part of the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER): Black History Month, taking place in the surrounding woodlands of Kibble Palace glasshouse.

Over 20 participants representing six different cultures spent the morning discovering how Scottish scientists and plant collectors commissioned highly talented Indian artists to paint botanical specimens over two centuries ago.

The event was led by botanic artist Alicia Salazar and Director of Creative ArtWorks Joanna Boyce.

Alicia said: “Edinburgh medics laid the foundations of this little known link between Scotland and India over two hundred years ago, studying Indian flora as part of their training.

“Scottish scientists supplemented the medic’s specimens and descriptions by commissioning highly talented Indian artists to make paintings of plants destined for Scotland. Many of these paintings survive in collections today”.

Fifteen of the party returned to Kibble Palace glasshouse in the afternoon having gathered their own leaf specimens. After a quick introduction to simple watercolour techniques, the group were soon dissolving pigments, preparing washes and matching greens to create their own leaf paintings.

Huda Alarishi, from Pollokshields, said: “Being outdoors, learning of this intriguing link and being able to replicate these paintings for myself has been a really enjoyable experience.

“I’d never really explored woodlands before. It’s easy to forget you’re so close to the city when you’re out among the trees. I’ll definitely spend more time here with my family.”

At the end of the event the group had enough time to showcase their work to each other, creating a collection of botanical paintings in keeping with two centuries ago.

Romena Huq, Forestry Commission Scotland engagement officer, said: “This event is part of Forestry Commission Scotland’s efforts to engage more effectively with black and minority ethnic communities and communities who do not traditionally visit the woods encouraging them to visit their local woodlands more regularly. 

“There’s an increasing body of research showing that there are numerous physical and mental health benefits to spending time in woods and forests. Ensuring that people from all backgrounds across Scotland are aware of how green spaces can help them stay fit and healthy is an important part of our work.

For more information on Forestry Commission Scotland and upcoming events visit

Notes to News editors

1.  Forestry Commission Scotland works as the Scottish Government's forestry directorate.

2.  Media enquiries to Romena Huq on 01698 368 535 / 07917 504 981 or Steve Williams on 0131 314 6508 or