SCOTLAND’S Flow Country and its role in the fight against climate change is the inspiration for a major new work created by leading artists from across the UK.

The outdoor art event will premiere at Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens (RBG) later this month. Below the Blanket features work by award-winning composers and artists who collaborated with scientists and environmentalists working at the heart of the Flow Country – the largest single expanse of blanket bog in the world and a proposed World Heritage Site.

Situated in the far north of Scotland, it is a 200,000-hectare expanse of deep peat which plays a crucial role in fighting the effects of climate change. Around 3% of the world’s land surface is peatland, but only a tiny percent of this is blanket bog. It is a significant habitat for a wide range of plants and animals including hen harriers, otters, dragonflies and carnivorous plants.

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“On a global scale, this land of hidden riches is rare,” said Below the Blanket director Cathie Boyd. “Scotland holds about 15% of the world’s blanket bog, and much of it is in the Flow Country.

“Below the blanket bog has been the main inspiration for this project, be it stunning Sphagnum moss or the many millions of tons of carbon which are buried deep below.”

She said she was “thrilled” that all the artists had spent time in the Flow Country and worked with scientists to better understand the peatlands.

“We hope this work shares the beauty and vastness of the Flow Country, a wondrous world largely unknown area to many, including myself, before I began this project,” said Boyd. “I hope it stresses the important of climate change and why this area of Scotland plays such a crucial role.”

Below the Blanket is a sensory series of visual, sonic and kinetic installations that will transform the gardens from July 24 until August 25 as part of the Festival Fringe.

It features new work from visual artist and composer Kathy Hinde, composer Luci Holland, visual artist Heather Lander and sound designer Matthew Olden. They have all spent time in residence at the Peatland Partnership’s field centre on the RSPB’s Forsinard Flows National Nature Reserve in the heart of the Flow Country, creating work directly inspired by the geology, flora and fauna of the area.

The award-winning Dunedin Consort, Scotland’s leading Baroque ensemble, has recorded a new choral work inspired by the project and composed by Malcolm Lindsay which will be performed on July 26 and August 2, 16 and 23 amongst the garden’s huge cypress trees.

Ian Edwards, RBG’s head of exhibition and events, said one of the most important actions that could be taken in Scotland to avert climate change was protect and restore “precious” peatlands, like the Flow Country.

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“Their fragility but also their resilience resides within the intricate network of biological diversity that lies beneath the surface, including the variety of mosses, lichens, invertebrates and micro-organisms that remain hidden and under-appreciated,” he said.

“Below the Blanket is sure to raise curiosity about the lives of these lowly plants and animals, and will encourage us to celebrate how Scotland’s nature is of global importance.”

Below the Blanket is presented by Cryptic which was set up by Boyd in 1994 with the aim of creating innovative performances that would “ravish the senses” for international audiences. Her many years of artistic practice include numerous international commissions and collaborations which have been presented in over 25 countries and she has been instrumental in providing a key platform for artists around the world by creating Glasgow’s Sonica Festival in 2012.

The Peatlands Partnership brings together a range of organisations who are working together to secure the sustainable future of the Flow Country and through the Flows to the Future project, large areas of peatland have, and continue to be, restored. The project is also aiming to connect people to the Flow Country and promote its cultural and environmental significance.

Caroline Eccles, of Flows to The Future, said the inspiration to work with artists was born from a desire to share the Flow Country with people who might never have visited the area.

“We felt that working with artists would give us special insights and would be interesting and inspiring for a wide audience, and this has certainly proved to be the case,” she said.

Eccles said she was particularly pleased the artists had been working with scientists.

“This gives quite a different dimension as the Flow Country is at the heart of much of the science going on around peatlands and climate change,” she said.