‘I love twigs’: botanical painter Emma Tennant interviewed

Hermitage, where the heel of Roxburghshire kicks into the once-lawless Debatable Lands, seems an unlikely place to find a botanical artist. It’s hard to make anything grow here, let alone an exhibition-load of rare and sometimes exotic plants. Lorded over by Hermitage Castle, a menacing hulk of medieval brutalism described by George MacDonald Fraser as ‘shouting “sod off” in stone’, this is a remote, rarely visited stretch of the border. Once the playground of reivers, and the graveyard of their victims, today it’s a land of sheep farming, forestry plantations and cruel May frosts. But there, hunkered against the wind in the foot of the Hermitage valley, is the studio

Fresh and dreamy: Edward Lear, at Ikon Gallery, reviewed

‘It seems to me that I have to choose between 2 extremes of affection for nature… English, or Southern… The latter – olive – vine – flowers… warmth & light, better health – greater novelty – & less expense in life. On the other side are, in England, cold, damp & dullness, – constant hurry & hustle – cessation from all varied topographical interest, extreme expenses…’ That choice was effectively made for Edward Lear in 1837 when he gave up the natural history studies by which he had made his name in his teens and headed south to Rome on doctors’ advice, aged 24. Prone to asthma and epileptic seizures,