Gülnur Ekşi painting at RBGE

Gülnur Ekşi

was born in Sinop (Turkey) in 1981 and graduated in 2004 with a degree in Biology from the Faculty of Education, Department of Biology in Hacettepe University. In 2010 she started a Master course at the Department of Pharmaceutic Botany in Ankara University. At the moment Gülnur  is researching her PhD – A taxonomic revision of the genus Allium L. (Sect. Bravispatha). Gülnur was taught plant illustration by Christabel King from 2002 – 2005 and in addition to her botanical studies, works on illustrations for the projects: Turkish Bulbs, ‘Kars – Igdir Biodiversty Project’ and The Flora of Turkey, for which she is artistic editor. She has also prepared the biological illustrations for a book entitled General Biology and organised a series of botanical art courses (line drawing and watercolour) in Turkey. Since 2007 she has been a visiting botanical artist to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) in order to prepare paintings for the book Plants from the Woods and Forests of Chile and to teach botanical art classes. She has exhibited her work widely in Turkey. In 2009 she received a Silver Gilt Gold Medal and in 2010 received a Gold medal for her paintings of Chilean plants at BISCOT (Botanical Images Scotia), Edinburgh and in 2010, 2012 and 2013 at the Royal Horticultural Society, Botanical Art Show in London. Her paintings are currently exhibited in Hacettepe and Ankara Universities and at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery in London.

Hülya Korkmaz painting at RBGE

Hülya Korkmaz

was born in Burdur (Turkey) in 1982 and graduated in 2005 from the Faculty of Fine Art, Suleyman Demirel University, Isparta. Her background is in biological drawings, particularly of insects and snails and as student she started studying botanical illustration, attending courses taught by Christabel King from 2004 to 2005. Hülya is now a full time botanical artist at the Classical Turkish Arts Foundation in Istanbul. As a botanical artist she currently works on a number of projects, including ‘Turkish Bulbs’, ‘Natural Plants of the NGBB’ (Botanical Garden of Istanbul), ‘Kars-Igdir Biodiversity Project’ and ‘The Flora of Turkey’. She has also organised courses in Isparta on bird and botanical illustration. Since 2007 she has been a visiting botanical artist to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) in order to prepare paintings for the book ‘Plants from the Woods and Forests of Chile’ and to teach botanical art classes. She has been awarded Silver Medal for her Turkish bulb paintings at BISCOT (Botanical Images Scotia), Scotland in 2009 and a Silver Gilt at the Royal Horticultural Society Botanical Art Show, London, 2010.

Işik Güner painting at RBGE

Işık Güner

was born in 1983 and gained a degree in Environmental Engineering in Marmara University, Istanbul in 2006. During her undergraduate course she began studying botanical illustration, attending courses taught by Christabel King from 2002 to 2005. Işik is currently a full time botanical artist working on a number of projects including ‘Turkish Bulbs’, ‘Flora of Kaçkar’, ‘Kars-Igdır Biodiversity Project’, ‘The Flora of Turkey’ and The Natural Plants of the NGBB (Botanical Garden of Istanbul). She is also a botanical artist with the tour company ‘Green Tours’ on their ‘Art in the Field’ Tours. Her first book, for children, published in 2006, is entitled ‘Bitkileri Taniyalim’ (to learn about plants). Since 2007 she has been a visiting botanical artist to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) in order to prepare paintings for the book ‘Plants from the Woods and Forests of Chile’ and to teach botanical art classes. Her exhibits at BISCOT (Botanical Images Scotia), Edinburgh have achieved a Silver Gilt Medal in 2009 and a Gold Medal and the special ‘Mary Mendum Medal’ in 2011 & 2013. She has also been awarded a Gold Medal and ‘Best Painting in Show’ at the RHS Botanical Art Show in 2010 & 2014.


Martin Gardner in New Caledonia

Martin Gardner

has worked at the Royal Botanic Garden (RBGE) since 1991 during which time he has co-ordinated the International Conifer Conservation Programme (ICCP). This initiative has taken him to many parts of the tropical and temperate world including Albania, Cuba, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, South Korea and Vietnam in order to study conifers and their associated plant species. Much of his work has been carried out in Chile where projects have been initiated to develop strategies to help conserve threatened conifers and their associated plant species. An important part of this work has involved helping talented Chilean students study in post-graduate courses at RBG Edinburgh. In the UK he has helped to develop an ex situ network of 145 'Safe Sites' where 12,000 known wild origin threatened conifers are being cultivated and protected.

Paulina on fieldwork in Argentina

Paulina Hechenleitner

graduated as a Forest Engineer from the Universidad Austral de Chile (UACh) in 2001. In 2002 she was awarded a six month horticultural scholarship at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and on returning to her university she was appointed Curator of the Arboretum in Valdivia at the Forestry Faculty and lecturer. During this time she helped to co-ordinate a 3 year Darwin Initiative Project which involved extensive field work to study a diverse range of habitats and threatened forest plant species which led to the co-authoring of the book ‘Threatened Plants of Central and South Chile'. In 2007 Paulina completed a MSc in the Biodiversity and Taxonomy of Plants at RBG Edinburgh and the University of Edinburgh during which time she undertook a taxonomic revision of Chilean Ribes species. Currently Paulina is undertaking a PhD at the University of Aberdeen in association with RBG Edinburgh and RBG Kew on the Biogeography & Systematics of South American Vicia (Leguminosae).

Josefina in the flowering desert of the Atacama Desert, Chile

Josefina Hepp

graduated as an Agronomist from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC) in 2006. In 2008 she was awarded a one-year scholarship to undertake an MSc based at the University of Edinburgh, where she studied the effects of herbivory on Salix lanata (Woolly willow) growth and reproduction, in Coire Sharroch, Scotland. During this time she volunteered at the Herbarium of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) curating and identifying historic Chilean herbarium collections.  Josefina is currently working at The Atacama Desert Center (PUC) where she is developing projects related to education and conservation of plants from arid and semiarid ecosystems. At the same time, she is doing her PhD on seed physiology and anatomy, focusing on native plants from the coastal Atacama Desert, particularly Solanaceae species. She is co-author of 'Verdes Raíces', a book about native plants and traditional uses of the flora, for children and teachers, and also of the book “Todo por sobrevivir” (“All to survive”), dealing with plant adaptations. She is also very interested in the links between art and science, something she hopes to develop further in the future.

Project Advisers

Andrea Gabriel

Andrea Gabriel graduated as a Biologist from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in 2000, having participated in the International Conifer Conservation Programme in both Chile and Scotland between 1997-2000. Between 2000 and 2007 she worked on the fields of Outdoor and Environmental Education with the great fortune of working in settings such as rainforests, the Andes, Patagonia, the Atacama Desert and Antarctica. During that time she worked with people of all ages and walks of life, and covered many roles including becoming the Chilean Co-ordinator for the British charity Raleigh International and the Executive Director of the Chilean charity Fundación Vertical. She was also the co-author of several publications in the field of Outdoor Education including a series of 4 technical guidebooks. Since she moved to Scotland in 2008 she has become the proud mum of two beautiful girls, and has volunteered and worked with a wide range of charities and organisations. She has been delighted to be involved with the RBGE during the last couple of years and to be part of such a beautiful publication as Plants from the Woods and Forest of Chile. 

Photo of Jacqui Pestell

Jacqui Pestell

originally trained in textiles in Nottingham and London, followed in the 1980's by work in illustration and fashion. She obtained her Post Graduate Certificate in Education as a teacher of Art at Goldsmiths, London. Her placement at the RBG Kew, to develop schools’ curriculum teaching materials, inspired her love for botany and the natural environment. In 1998 Jacqui joined the Education Department at RBG Edinburgh, teaching environmental art for schools and botanical painting to artists. She continued to exhibit her paintings in the UK and in Europe and throughout this time she developed illustration work for London publishers and for RBGE’s Dawyck Botanic Garden. In 1999 Jacqui represented the RBGE British garden at the Kunming Gardening Expo in China and exhibited in the British Embassy. The following year the celebratory exhibition ‘China on Paper’ was shown at the RBGE. In 2004 she helped develop and deliver an environmental art course at the NGBB (Botanical Garden of Istanbul) in Turkey. In 2005 she devised and launched the RBGE’s renowned flagship two year ‘Diploma in Botanical Illustration' course, which has enjoyed a growing reputation for excellence. Involvement with the Plants from the Woods and Forest of Chile project led to the development of a highly successful botanical art course taught in conjunction with Gűlnur Ekşi in Santiago in 2010.

Clare in the Chilean Altiplano

Clare Morter

graduated from Norwich School of Art with a BA(Hons) in Graphic Design and in 1986 gained an MA from the Royal College of Art, London. She has worked as an illustrator and printmaker, specialising in wood engraving. Her work has been widely exhibited and is held in public and private collections. From 1998-2000 Clare joined the Higher National Diploma (HND) course, Horticulture with Plantsmanship at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and is currently a Senior Horticulturist at the Garden having joined the staff in November 2000. Her responsibilities include the propagation of the Indoor Living Collection and Chilean plants. Clare’s combined background in art and horticulture has resulted in consultancy work at Ian Hamilton Finlay’s garden at Little Sparta in the Pentland Hills, Scotland. In November/December 2008 she travelled to Chile’s Atacama Desert in order to make research collections; the task of growing plants from this extreme environment has proved a great challenge and has encouraged her to undertake further field work in Chile in early 2011.

Sabina Knees

graduated from Reading University with a Bsc (Hons) in Botany with Soil Science and an MSc in Pure and Applied Plant Taxonomy. She later completed a PhD on the ‘Phylogenetics, systematics and conservation of Mediterranean Abies’. Sabina spent her early career researching cultivated plants, firstly as Assistant Botanist at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Garden at Wisley and eventually as Editor of The New Plantsman. Sabina moved to Edinburgh to work as a researcher on the European Garden Flora project based at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE), where she is currently a research scientist with the Centre for Middle Eastern Plants (CMEP). Her principal responsibility is the compilation of the Flora of the Arabian Peninsula and Socotra. Sabina also advised on the development of the Oman Botanic Garden and undertakes conservation assessments of Arabian plants as part of the Arabian Plant Specialist Group and the Freshwater Plant Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission. Sabina’s research has taken her to many countries in the Middle East, Europe, Africa and Tropical and South America. She has carried out extensive field work throughout Chile over the last 20 years.

Henry Noltie in the archives

Henry Noltie

is a botanist at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, interested in taxonomy, the history of collections, and botanical art. His taxonomic interests are in the monocotyledons, especially of the Sino-Himalayan region, and on these he has written two volumes of the Flora of Bhutan. More recently he has worked on the rich collections of Indian botanical drawings at RBGE, made by Indian artists for Scottish East India Company surgeons - linking these with related herbarium collections. He has curated a series of exhibitions at the Garden's gallery in Inverleith House, and written two major illustrated books on parts of the collection: The Dapuri Drawings (2002) and Robert Wight and the Botanical Drawings of Rungiah & Govindoo (2007). He has also written a catalogue of the natural history drawings in the British Library commissioned by Sir Stamford Raffles: Raffles' Ark Redrawn (2009).