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Year of Natural Scotland LogoArtists and planners from across Scotland yesterday came together in Edinburgh to launch ‘By leaves we live’, a project inspired by Patrick Geddes, the founder of town planning to explore Scotland’s natural environment.

PAS has teamed up with Creative Scotland, Forestry Commission Scotland, Central Scotland Green Network, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation to mark the Year of Natural Scotland 2013 and deliver a project across Scotland that will pay homage to Patrick Geddes, the founding father of modern town planning – a Scot renowned internationally more so than in his native land.

The launch event for ‘By leaves we live’ brought together for the first time artists and town planners from across Scotland. The project seeks to highlight the creative force of planning; demonstrating how planning can help us create and deliver a vision for the future of Scotland’s natural environment.

Often described as an ecologist, biologist and sociologist, Patrick Geddes was also the pioneer of modern day town and regional planning. He believed in concept of ‘place, work, folk’ – and for planning to be successful, it must take each into account.

Through his ‘survey, analysis, plan’ approach, Geddes stressed the importance of starting with a ‘civic survey’ of both the natural environment and its people. It is precisely this concept of observation before action that has inspired the ‘By leaves we live’ project.

PAS has commissioned six artists to work as artist-in-residence in six thematic locations around Scotland. The six artists are: Dr Andrew Sclater; Becky Duncan; David Faithfull; Gerry Loose; Michelle Letowska; and Mary Bourne.

PAS Chief Executive, Petra Biberbach said:“We are delighted to play a part in the Year of Natural Scotland 2013, bringing together art and planning to inspire debate around Scotland’s natural environment. Through this unique collaboration, we will bring artists, planners and communities together to debate the future of one of Scotland’s most important assets – its natural environment.”

By leaves we live is supported by Creative Scotland. The Year of Natural Scotland is a Visit Scotland initiative. Kenneth Fowler, Director of Communications at Creative Scotland said: “The By leaves we live project will see artists working in new ways with planners and local communities as part of the diverse range of activities taking place during the Year of Natural Scotland. This sharing of ideas, insights and skills will provide a fresh and fascinating contribution to the debate on our relationship with the natural environment.”

James McDougall, from Forestry Commission Scotland said: “We are really excited about being involved in this innovative project which gives us a great opportunity to exchange knowledge and ideas with planning professionals through art. The work of the Commission is not something that is confined to the hills and glens of Scotland and our work in urban greenspace is now becoming well recognised throughout Scotland.”

PAS will present the project findings and artists’ responses at the Imaging Natural Scotland conference hosted by St Andrews University in August, followed by a series of community workshops and an exhibition in the Scottish Parliament. A publication will also be produced as a record of the project and shared nationally.



‘By leaves we live’ project leader – Lynn Wilson / 0131 220 9730
Communications Manager – David McAllister /0131 220 9733 / 07595 995268


The title, ‘By leaves we live’, is an extract from a text by Geddes which inspired the brief. Geddes’ vision of ‘folk planning’ continues to inspire PAS’ work. In his final lecture at Dundee University, Geddes said: “We need to give everyone the outlook of the artist, who begins with the art of seeing – and in time we shall follow him into the seeing of art, even the creating of it.”

Each of the six artist residencies will research ways to relay each other’s professional knowledge and activities about the natural environment to the wider public through the production of artist-led exercises and the development of an artist’s response to each project. The project will also explore the economic challenges and opportunities that the planning system has to carefully balance.


PAS is an independent organisation helping people to shape their local environment and engage more effectively with the planning system. As an independent organisation, impartiality is our most important guiding principle.

Planning is a vital public service and everyone in Scotland should be able to participate effectively and efficiently. PAS is here to help provide the skills and information to engage effectively with planning. Planning advice helpline: 0845 603 7602

Planning decides where development should happen, where it shouldn’t and how it affects and fits into its surroundings. The planning system is essential for economic growth, protecting the environment, promoting sustainability and improving quality of life for all of us.

Creative Scotland
Creative Scotland is the national development agency for the arts, screen and creative industries.

Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation is an international charitable foundation with cultural, educational, social and scientific interests. Based in Lisbon with offices in London and Paris, the Foundation is in a privileged position to support national and transnational work tackling contemporary issues.

The purpose of the UK Branch in London is to connect and enrich the experiences of individuals, families and communities, with a special interest in supporting those who are most disadvantaged. One of our core aims is to help in the development of a society which benefits from a more sustainable relationship with the natural world and understands the value of its resources. For further information please go to:

Forestry Commission Scotland
Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) serves as part of the Scottish Government’s Environment and Forestry directorate, and is responsible to Scottish ministers, advising on and implementing forestry policy and managing the national forest estate.
More about FCS in the Year of Natural Scotland 2013

Central Scotland Green Network
The Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN) will change the face of Central Scotland, by restoring and transforming the landscape of an area stretching from Ayrshire and Inverclyde in the west, to Fife and the Lothians in the east.

Scottish Natural Heritage
Scottish Natural Heritage is the government’s adviser on all aspects of nature and landscape across Scotland. Our role is to help everyone understand, value and enjoy Scotland’s nature now and in the future. For more information, visit

The Year of Natural Scotland 2013 is a celebration of Scotland’s outstanding natural beauty. It’s a partnership between the Scottish Government, VisitScotland, EventScotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and a range of public and private sector organisations. For information on events and activities throughout the year, visit