Tracing roots back to India

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PEOPLE from across Glasgow’s multicultural community descended on the westend to delve into the past at the Botanic Gardens.

The event, If You Can Paint One Leaf, You Can Paint The World, was a celebration of a 200-year-old link between Scotland and India.

It was arranged by the Forestry Commission Scotland as part of the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights: Black History Month.

More than 20 participants representing six different cultures spent Monday morning discovering how Scottish scientists and plant collectors commissioned highly-talented, Indian artists to paint botanical specimens more than two centuries ago.

The event was overseen by botanic artist Alicia Salazar and director of Creative Works Joanna Boyce.

Alicia said: “Edinburgh medics laid the foundations of this little-known link between India and Scotland more than 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”.

Taking part in the event, Huda Alarashi, from Pollokshields, said: “Being outdoors, learning of this intriguing link and being able to replicate these paintings for myself has been a very 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’d definitely spend more time here with my family”.

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 communities and communities which 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”.