The plant clinic workshop & the theater of weeds
I collaborated with the Two Green Shoots gardens in Glengarriff, West Cork in August 2020.
Following a series of visit to the gardens and regular correspondence with the owners, my placement started early in August and finished at the end of Heritage Week, an annual week-long festival of national cultural events.
I chose to collaborate with these specific gardens in order to inform and develop my studio practice.
I found strong links between the sustainability philosophy behind the gardens and my own artistic concerns and interests that involve exploring the relationship between humans and plants, and the phenomenon of ‘Plant Blindness’ whereby people are unable to notice or focus their attention on plants in their own environment and therefore to emotionally connect with them.
The owners Kloe and Adam have a strong interest in and knowledge of weeds which echoes my research involving the study of weeds and their function and meaning in today’s society, and the destruction of what are considered undesired species seen as enemies in competition with more aesthetically and commercially valued species.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the frequent restriction changes, the planning and organisation of the possible projects within the gardens required constant revisiting.
The final project,‘The Theatre of Weeds’, celebrated garden weeds, their history, ecology and their medicinal and gastronomic benefits. The plants were showcased and displayed using the tradition of Victorian plant theatres. Participants sampled food prepared using the garden weeds, and engaged in tours of the garden, art workshops, and a series of presentations on the story of weeds.
The idea behind the Plant Clinic workshop is to create images of hybrid plants by selecting from colour, texture and shape cards that I designed using commercial paint shop colour cards.
The cards include a combination of various greens and flowers cutouts from glossy garden magazines, small pieces of recycled plastic and original colours from the colour cards.
In addition, I included line drawings of various leaf shapes and cutouts of human facial features, i.e. nose, mouth, eyes and ears.
I used forms inspired by requirements from professional horticultural exhibitions to record the visitors’ preferences in designing their ideal plants, for example their preferred colour, shape, leaf size, etc.
The participants were first invited to draw a quick sketch of a plant chosen from the ‘Theatre of Weeds’. They were then asked to modify the plant by choosing options from the cards.
People were initially reluctant to modify the plants; they wanted to keep them natural. However it did not take long before the participants selected from the cards and made their modifications.