Loch Lomond and the Trossachs
Local hero for:
Being an artist and ecologist who portrays nature in photograms
Alexander was awarded a one-year residency at Ruskin's former home of Brantwood in the Lake District to create work in response to Ruskin's ideas on ecology and botany
Alexander Hamilton grew up in Caithness, Scotland. Born in 1950 he studied drawing and painting at Edinburgh College of Art, before going on to spend six months recording the plants on the uninhabited island of Stroma. There he created his first ‘photogram’ images – and began a 40-year career exploring the connections between plants and landscape.
What is a photogram?
One of the earliest types of photography, a photogram is similar to a photographic print but it’s made without film or the use of a camera. Therefore, like drawing or painting – but not always photography – it is considered art.
Objects are placed directly onto a photosensitive material and cast ‘shadows’ to form the image. Some have called it ‘collage’ without the scissors and glue.
Alexander’s work has been seen across Europe in the exhibition The Peace Rose and the Pursuit of Perfection. He has also collaborated with the centre for plant research at University Hohenheim Stuttgart on the use of plants as bio indicators – this work was shown at the Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh in 2001.
In 2008 a major exhibition of Alexander’s photograms, called Blue Flora Celtica, was at the Foksal Gallery in Warsaw.
Links with Ruskin
Alexander has a particular interest in a site at Glenfinlas, Brig oTurk, in Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park – the setting for the artist Millais’ 1853 portrait of art critic John Ruskin.
First he tracked down the rock Ruskin stood on while the picture was being painted – no mean feat – and then he created photogram images of the flowers growing within a 20-metre range of it, having first carried out a botanical survey. The survey, conducted with help from the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, revealed most plants Alexander found were the same species as those that were there in Ruskin’s day.