Edinburgh Royal Botanics

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Symmetry

I’ve seen a few beautiful photos recently which use reflections in water – lakes or even puddles – to create a symmetry in the picture that always captures my attention. And this week, I had two very different experiences of symmetry.

The first was finishing Audrey Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry. It’s part ghost story, part love story, and part about twins. There are, in fact, two set of twins, between two generations. Something happened a long time ago with the twins of the older generation that nobody else seems to know about, including the twins’ husband or partner. When one of them dies, she leaves her house in London to the twin daughters of her (twin) sister. These two younger twins, Valentina and Julia, are symmetrical – everything is reversed between them both. So where one has her heart on the left, the other has hers on the right. And they are inseparable. But living in London for the first time, they find that what they want is about to diverge and they don’t know how to deal with that. There are a number of narratives going on at the same time, with some peculiar characters which just seem to work (making mental notes about this – I’ve forgotten some of the details of the plot already, but not the characters). And I think there is also a kind of symmetry going on in the overall plot, with people growing apart and coming back together again and vice versa. If I were a literary critic, I think I would have a proper look at that. I had read mixed reviews of the book, but it worked for me.

The second symmetry this week was entirely visual. Edinburgh’s Botanic Gardens held a  light show which used their already beautiful grounds as the backdrop for a light, and at some points sound, show which allowed visitors not only to watch, but to play as well, changing the colour of the light being cast onto trees and buildings so that the effect was constantly changing.

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We loved the harp in its position of prominence!

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The artificial lighting gave some lovely effects – the camera picks up the colours differently from the human eye.

There were also some shows with water and light features, and it was the finale which made the whole event for me (that and the ability to buy a hot chocolate half way round – it was freezing when we were there). The water was calm and the sky totally clear (hence the cold) so the reflection and symmetry were just beautiful. Here’s a taster of the symmetry:

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