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'Changed Priorities Ahead' exhibition (1 June–20 October)

Oil painting on Changed Priorities Ahead road sign of teazels and goldfinches
Changed Priorities Ahead - from 1 June to 20 October at Scotney Castle | © Amanda Glubb

This summer's exhibition at Scotney focuses on the work of local wildlife artist, Nessie Ramm, and her unusual and distinctive large-scale paintings of wildflowers on metal road signs.

‘Changed Priorities Ahead’ at Scotney Castle

A new mini-exhibition celebrating the forgotten wildflowers of our roadsides is set to go on display at Scotney Castle this summer. Spotlighting native wildflowers it showcases beautiful murals painted onto road traffic signs by local artist Nessie Ramm, displayed in Scotney's atmospheric castle and garden. It is a call to put away our strimmers and re-evaluate our relationship with the natural world.

The display includes exhibits created especially for Scotney and features native wildflowers found in the area such as toadflax, viper’s bugloss, common vetch and ox-eye daisies. These bucolic species thrive independently on verges, car parks, slip roads, roundabouts and laybys, thanks to their inaccessible location. Depicted with exquisite detail, the large-scale oil paintings celebrate forgotten wildflowers found on our roadsides and render visible the wildness and value of these unloved spaces.

The title piece, 'Changed Priorities Ahead', features a charm of gold finches who have been feasting on teazels growing wild on the verges and roundabout at Blue Boys on the A21. Other pieces will feature the rare green-winged orchids found at Scotney and the land bridge crossing the A21 at Scotney Castle.

Exhibition artist, Nessie Ramm says: “Road verges are unloved and functional, yet nature can thrive on them. Like linear meadows creating green corridors for wildlife, they’re a brilliant example of how nature does not need things to be perfect. Verges, car parks and industrial estates can all be fantastic spaces for nature - if we let them.”

Containing several new pieces created especially for Scotney Castle, ‘Changed Priorities Ahead’ is arranged in two parts: a display inside the iconic Ashburnham Tower of Scotney’s ruined medieval castle and more paintings outside forming a trail around the Picturesque gardens. The pieces for the garden trail relate directly to Scotney’s own contribution to conserve nature and enhance the biodiversity on the site, such as allowing the rare green-winged orchids to thrive on the previously formal terrace lawns.

Scotney’s General Manager, Rebecca Rees, adds: “We’re delighted to be hosting Nessie’s very unusual and beautiful work here at Scotney Castle. Not only has she created some stunning pieces celebrating the rare wildlife found at Scotney, the National Trust supports the message of being aware of our surroundings, actively making decisions to support nature, and giving space for nature to thrive. When nature thrives, we thrive too.”

The exhibition is not Nessie’s first connection with Scotney: “I visited Scotney regularly as a child and I remember using the old castle as my inspiration for an art competition I entered and won when I was 11 years old. It feels remarkable to be back all these years later to hold this exhibition.”

‘Changed Priorities Ahead’ is on display at Scotney Castle from 1 June to 20 October 2024, 10am to 5pm, and is included with normal admission (free for NT members). Old castle display open daily 11am-4pm. Garden trail open daily 10am-5pm.

Detail of gold finch from 'Changed Priorities Ahead' by Nessie Ramm at Scotney Castle
Detail of gold finch from 'Changed Priorities Ahead' by Nessie Ramm at Scotney Castle | © Laura Edwards
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