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Visual Arts

Geum Urbanum, #1 Edinburgh

From 28 September 2013 to 26 October 2013


’’Geum Urbanum’’ originally is a book of photographs by Geoffroy Mathieu showing the collision between nature and urban space in Tangier, Marseille and Edinburgh.

Invited by the Institut francais in Edinbugh in 2011 to complete his project, Geoffroy Mathieu criss-crossed the city from the centre to its periphery, looking at how nature and city mix.

The photos taken during his visit and presented in this exhibition show the unique relationship between the natural world and human occupation in Edinburgh : the untouched forests and rivers crossing the city, the man-controlled meticulously trimmed lawns, gardens and golf courses, the kitchen gardens and waste lands punctuating the urban landscapes...

Looking at these photos, one can’t help but think that here more than anywhere else, man is harmoniously managing nature, in a very Anglo-Saxon kind of way.

Through his photos, Mathieu aspires to ‘read’ the city differently, no longer as opposed to nature but as an emanation of nature. An ambition that becomes incredibly meaningful in a city like Edinburgh.

The Geum Urbanum that gives its name to the book and exhibition, also known as wood avens, colewort or St Benedict’s herb, is a perennial plant that grows in shady places - on uncultivated land or in verges. In cities it can be found in the shade of flower beds and hedges.


Geoffroy Mathieu (born in 1972) is a photographer who lives and works in Marseille. His landscape work shifts between urban areas (“En ville, à la plage”, “Dos à la mer: promenades urbaines en Méditerranée”, “Extensions urbaines”) and rural areas (“Mue, photographies de paysages autour du chantier du Viaduc de Millau et de l’A75”) and offers a poetic account of the relationship between physical space and human intervention.

Jointly with Bertrand Stofleth, and in partnership with Marseille-Provence 2013 (European Capital of Culture) and the Centre national des arts plastiques, he has also set up a bespoke Photographic Observatory of the Landscape for the GR®2013, a 365 kilometres semi-urban hiking trail between urban and natural areas around Marseille.


Mon - Fri : 9.30am - 6.30pm
Sat: 9.30am - 1.00pm

Institut Français Écosse 2022