John Templeton 1766-1825

Out of the Shadows:  Capturing the World of the Forgotten Naturalist John Templeton (1766-1825)

Ulster Museum Belfast 29 September – 13 November 2016

This exhibition is based on diaries written by the naturalist John Templeton between 1806-1825, when he lived at Cranmore, the historic family home in Malone, Belfast.  It marks the 250th anniversary of his birth, and brings to light the extraordinary breadth and historical significance of the diaries.

‘Given access to John Templeton’s diaries in the Ulster Museum, I was transported into the world of a gentleman scientist who contributed to the advancement of knowledge in a period of intense reflection.  The diaries present arguments on matters such as education and political philosophy and a mix of autobiography and events, as well as a detailed and accurate account of the landscape of the 1800s, its agriculture, flora and fauna.  Most wonderfully, they tell the story of the historic Cranmore gardens, designed by Templeton.

Many aspects of Templeton’s natural world seem to coincide with subjects and records in my own nature diaries.  I want to open the narrow window of time and space through which Templeton viewed his unique vision of the natural world and, where relevant and appropriate, compare it with mine.  This exhibition pays literary and photographic homage to the beauty, the wonder and detail of a natural world that has been lost to us for over 200 years.’

Patricia Pyne