Patricia Macdonald was born in Edinburgh to an artist mother and photographer father, and educated at the University of Edinburgh, where she gained a doctorate in Biological Science in 1973. A photographic artist, writer and environmental academic (National Museums Scotland; Edinburgh University/Edinburgh College of Art), throughout her interdisciplinary career Macdonald has pioneered many innovative art/science collaborations. Utilising stark yet beautiful large-format composite photographic artworks, she explores the concept of ‘cultural landscapes’. Many such sites, from rivers and moorlands to island coastlines, are semi-natural: apparently ‘wild’, but in fact permanently altered by human impacts from farming, hunting, leisure and industry over centuries or millennia.
Her powerful, boundary-crossing environmental aerial imagery – made in collaboration through the Aerographica partnership with Professor Angus Macdonald as pilot and operations manager – is exhibited and collected internationally. Macdonald is the author or co-author of numerous books and articles, spanning environmental and art contexts, including Surveying the Anthropocene: Environment and photography now, winner of the Saltire Society Research Book of the Year 2022, for Studies in Photography/Edinburgh University Press. Her photographic artworks have also featured in major publications such as The Oxford Companion to the Photograph (2005/6) and William Ewing’s international survey for Thames & Hudson, Landmark: The Fields of Landscape Photography (2014).