Of Natural & Mystical Things: Artists from the RSA Membership, Exhibitions and Awards Programme

Projects Room, RSA Lower Galleries

Free entry


For a 360° panorama of the show click here.


This exhibition presents RSA Members as well as artists that have recently come through the RSA Awards & Exhibitions programme. Every year the RSA awards around £100,000 worth of awards, prizes and residencies with the purpose of supporting and promoting contemporary art in Scotland.


Loosely based on the idea of the Wunderkammer or Kunstkammer, this exhibition presents a number of artists whose work explores the physical, philosophical and mystical nature of the world. From the physiological study of the natural world and it's genetic hybridisation, to the symbolic and transformative power of ritual, religion, and the shadowy worlds of mysticism and mythology, each artist shines an inquisitive, uncanny and sometimes humorous light on the world as they see it.

Most of these beautiful works are for sale and are available through the OwnArt Scheme which offers 0% interest on loans. Please speak with our sales agent if you would like more information. Please note, no animals were harmed in the making of this exhibition.


"Warning: this exhibition is not for the faint hearted. It tackles contemporary World concerns through the implementation of spectacular techniques and subjects, and, as a result, sends the viewer spiralling out of their comfort zone. It has the ability to make an audience question just in what directions things are actually headed. Of Natural and Mystical Things is, therefore, the (black) cherry on the sumptuous cake whose ingredients comprise the Royal Scottish Academy's smaller projects this season." Fern Insh, Scottish Art Blog




Ian Howard RSA
Howard's work characteristically involves the intuitive interweaving of figurative, abstract and symbolic forms and is inspired by Renaissance and Early Modern imagery of an arcane nature. Such imagery reached the height of its complexity in seventeenth century illustrations to treatises on alchemy, such as those by Heinrich Khunrath (1527-1604) and John Dee (1527-1608). These illustrations often provided labyrinthine allegories of spiritual transformation, or even hieroglyphic stimulants to revelation, as much as they provided practical instructions for changing base metals into gold. Howard is partly attracted to the enigma of alchemical imagery for its own sake, and the subject of his work is likewise less revealed through straightforward depiction than experienced in the exploration of visual connections. (V&A)


Glen Onwin RSA
Glen Onwin was born in Edinburgh, where he studied painting at the College of Art. Following a period teaching in secondary education he returned to the College and is now a professor. Glen has followed an highly individual course as an artist. He became fascinated by salt marshes, not as the subject of conventional landscape painting, but rather as a phenomenon to study with a quasi-scientific approach. He is interested in the structures behind appearances - microscopic images, crystalline forms, and the slow changes of materials over time.


Ashley Nieuwenhuizen
The animal in art has the effect on us to engage with our humanness, whether it is a physical comparison or the investigation into genetics that divide us as a species. Consequently, as ecologies collide and species integrate; be that natural or forged, Nieuwenhuizen's practice, which exhibits an amalgamation of logical and imagined concepts, is moved to hint at the observer's conscience. Working primarily in sculpting, printmaking, performance and more recently drawing, each medium is used to specifically correspond to the juxtaposition of the species and their (unnatural) environments.


Rebecca Cusworth
My work explores the transformative potential of a ritualised process. Referencing shamanism and local mythologies, the theme of metamorphosis runs thick through my work as everyday objects and natural detritus combine with my own body creating a site for ritual experimentation.


Bridget Steed
Bridget Steed was born in 1985 and educated at Edinburgh College of Art from 2003 - 2008. Bridget has developed a multi-disciplinary and cross medium practice. Her work is a collaborative process, creating a dialogue between historic and scientific research and artistic output.
"My work looks at a site, a specific place, uncovering its past, documenting its present, to remember and record its histories. I am interested in physical and personal landscapes, the traces and memories we leave behind".
After a 6 month residency on South Georgia in 2010, the histories and landscapes of the Antarctic are the focus of recent works. This remote and uninhabited place acts as a study site. The ephemeral nature of the land mirrors the fleeting traces of the past; memories melting away with the ice.


Jamie Fitzpatrick
Jamie graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone in 2009, receiving the RSA John Kinross Travel Scholarship, Scottish Sculpture Workshop Residency, Dundee Visual Artist Award Bursary, Wasps Studio Prize, Dundee.
He reconsiders hybridisation in the wake of technological and scientific expansion, most specifically transgenics and its impact on the REALising of mythology. Tapping into the scientific shift from the conceptual, the character of unreality, to the actual, many of the works reference his interest in Classical Sculpture, natural history illustrations and Rococo motifs and Architecture.


Mary Garner
Using mixed media to explore transitory scenes, Mary creates temporal snapshots of our universe. Looking at 'empty' spaces - from derelict building sites to night skies - Mary captures their elusive atmospheres. Layered surfaces are built, concealing and revealing elements, through a process of application and removal. Through repetition, Mary acknowledges the fruitlessness of attempts to depict a universe that is both a graspable, tangible entity and an elastic proposition in a state of constant flux, fated to disappear.


Lara Scouller
I am intrigued by the ambiguity created in my animal studies. Is it living or dead? Is it a still life or a portrait? Drawing in pastel allows me the freedom to work quickly bringing a degree of vitality and spontaneity to my work.


Lindsay Sekulowicz
Lindsay Sekulowicz is an artist, currently based in London, who for the past several years has worked in collaboration with museums including "Museo La Specola", The Museum of Natural History in Florence, Italy, and The Hunterian Museum, Glasgow.