To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow – Audrey Hepburn
European communities plant-based medicinal systems have been uncompromisingly anthropocentric. Their common assumption is that plants don’t cure human sickness by happy accident. It is the purpose of their existence on earth – Richard Mabey, Cabaret of Plants
As far back as the Eighteenth Century, Swedish botanist and plant classifier, Carl Linnaeus ascribed the notion of Panacea
to Ginseng (Panax ginseng
). Panacea - named after the daughter of Asclepius, the Roman god of healing, was the goal of medieval alchemists. A Cure-all. A Nature Cure
This notion of a plant as universal remedy is central to the ethics of the Spode Rose Garden and, just as the term Panacea has expanded into everyday use from its original narrow definition specific to medicinal remedies, we see the act of gardening, and all of its components and activities, as a panacea for life.
Taking place over 8 months in 2021, between March and November, the residency looks to creatively explore the health and material elements of Public Green Space using the Spode Rose Garden as the base, with themes including:
Public Green Space - What’s it for? Who’s it for? What is its history and development? How do we/should we use public space? How do we / should we access public space? Who can access public space and what are the barriers to that?
The role of the garden in mental and physical well-being.
The role of plants in a healthy garden
The sensory and the experiential
The garden as apothecary
Frances is a visual artist based in Liverpool. I studied at The Royal College of Art, and her multidisciplinary practice spans sculpture, participation, performance & installation. Her recent solo exhibition at Bluecoat, Pattern Buffer included an alternative mindfulness guide; hairdressing video art, and plants. Frances recently completed a 2-year commission for the Turnpike Gallery Leigh: a performance/video work in collab with Fallen Angels Dance Theatre (performers in recovery from addiction). Since 2018, she has been working on a series of commissions for Human Libraries. Her current project Freshly Cut Grass
consists of both analogue and online works: a series of sound works taking the form of guided imaginary journeys; workshops; planting; and multiples consisting of scents, tactile pieces and herbal teas.
THE RESIDENCY INTENTION
I’d like to use my time with the residency to develop a deeper knowledge of the health & wellbeing benefits, physically and psychologically, of working with plants. I’ve been exploring plants within my practice for some time, recently I collaborated with a therapeutic movement specialist to create an online hand and face massage where the body formed a natural landscape through the seasons and I created balms and scents derived from plant matter collected in my local municipal park. I’m interested in collective discovery and want to learn more about specific plants in collaboration with the friends of Spode Rose Garden and the public.
I’m hoping to record, distil, extract and observe the garden and see how things change throughout the year investing time in really just slowing down and noticing. I think that plants have the capacity help us feel just that little bit better in lots of different ways and I’d like to think about this and how it can be shared. There will be lots of ways for people to get involved via workshops and regular sharing of my findings I’m really excited to be able to spend this time at the Rose Garden and to work with the people that care for it and use it.
– Frances Disley