Residency with the Hugo Burge Foundation in June.

I was offered a residency and a commission by Hugo Burge last year after he bought two of my watercolour pieces, which are now in the Hugo Burge Foundation collection.

We were going to look at plants in and around Marchmont estate and in Hugo’s beloved Walled Garden and work from there. Sadly shortly afterward Hugo passed away. It’s a year now since his passing, and I am about to visit, to stay and to document some of the plants that he loved, aided by the Foundation’s lovely head gardener Toby Loveday (it’s in the name).

Walled Garden Hugo Burge Foundation Residency
Walled Garden Hugo Burge Foundation Residency
Walled Garden Hugo Burge Foundation Residency
As you may have heard me harp on… Marchmont House was the home of Rory McEwen, celebrated botanical illustrator and polymath. He painted in a studio just down the road, which will be my base. Rory was posthumously instrumental in inspiring my love of botanical illustration. I didn’t know it at the time, as I was 16 years old, when on a visit to a retrospective exhibition of his work at Inverleith House, (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh), I was captivated. The ultra-realistic quality of his work and focus on details that were essential to him shouted out in his paintings and ignited a slow burning spark.
I don’t know what the state of the Walled Garden was when he and his family lived at Marchmont, it has been enriched in the time that Hugo lived there with his and Toby’s dedication and love. The garden is filled with sculpture and form, which is very exciting, everywhere you turn there is a vista and intriguing focal points. When I visited to attend the Spirit of Rory McEwen day event, I was fortunate to meet Hugo for the first time. He was giving a Garden Tour, one of his favorite things to do, when we went off piste and he took us into the greenhouses which were being conserved and refurbished, (even though they weren’t strictly on the garden tour that had been devised for us, he couldn’t help himself), he was so excited. His excitement and enthusiasm were infectious.
Charlie Poulsen sculpture Marchmont House Open Studios
Hugo dreamt of building a ‘home for makers and creators’, the Foundation provides a number of creative spaces across various sites in the Scottish Borders offering residencies in multiple disciplines.
I introduced myself to Hugo and chatted about the joys of marketing as an artist! I subsequently met him at various of the Open Studios that were run from the Stables courtyard in Marchmont Estate. Hugo was always very supportive and welcoming, checking that everyone was looked after and that things were going well. I will never forget when Hugo told me that he loved my work, it was so gratifying, to be selected amongst the many that he supported and loved. I am so very honoured to have this opportunity and with it to commemorate Hugo.
I’m excited to be going, and sad that it won’t be with Hugo.
If you would like to find out more about the residencies offered by the Hugo Burge Foundation visit their website –