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2016 press release
Lucy Cash, Lucy McLauchlan, Lucía Montero, David Nash, James Nixon, Duncan Robertson, Stick in the Wheel, Sam Wallman, Sarah Westcott
7th May – 3 September 2016, Bethnal Green Nature Reserve, London E2
Launched in Bethnal Green Nature Reserve in 2014, Phytology is part physic garden, with 32 varieties of medicinal plants; part cultural institute; part urban wilderness; and a site for collaborations with botanists, artists, storytellers, musicians and writers.
In Spring, Phytology reawakens with VOICED, a sound installation curated and produced by multimedia artists Duncan Robertson and Lucía Montero, a series of billboard interventions and graphic essay by comic artist Sam Wallman, and a site responsive sculptural intervention by Lucy McLauchlan.
During 2015, writers, musicians and poets Lucy Cash, David Nash, James Nixon, Stick in the Wheel and Sarah Westcott undertook residencies in the Reserve. Responding to the properties and myths of medicinal plants, the nature of soil, weather, historical and contemporary happenings, and the nearby urban environment and community, they crafted charms, poems, prose and song. These written works have evolved into VOICED, an evocative five-part sound installation created by Robertson and Montero, and embedded amongst the trees, undergrowth and ruins of the Reserve.
Sam Wallman’s new commission is a graphic essay exploring dominant philosophies relating to land for Phytology’s large-scale billboard and a dedicated website. In a work that melds the political with the poetic, he explores the roots and contemporary manifestations of private property and territorialism, the concept of non-spaces, and everyday resistances to these ideas from animals, indigenous people, refugees and others. Installation and street artist, Lucy McLauchlan is producing a sequence of fluid, playful site-responsive installations situated throughout Reserve.
Since opening in 2014, Phytology has encouraged people to engage and use indigenous local medicinal plants through guided foraging and initiatives such as Adopt-A-Plant. Artists Tal Brosh, Vhils and Talya Baldwin were commissioned to produce original works inspired by Phytology for the Reserve; The Ministry of Stories took up residence for several months; and talks in partnership with Siobhan Davies Dance featured Thomas Heatherwick, Professor Monique Simmons and Dan Pearson. Ongoing projects include Urban Mind, an app developed in collaboration with the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at Kings College London and landscape architects J&L Gibbons that measures personal experiences of the urban environment; and the Nest Collective’s Campfire Club which returns in 2016 for a third season of open fires and live music.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Phytology: 7th May – 3rd September 2016
Bethnal Green Nature Reserve. Middleton Street, Bethnal Green, London E2 9RR
Opening times: Saturday 11:00am – 6:00pm, and other times by appointment.
For more information and details about forthcoming events including the Campfire Club programme see www.phytology.org.uk
Lucy Cash is a writer and artist with a background in performance and choreography. She has written for radio and sound installations, performance and film. She is drawn to the extraordinary appearance of ordinary things, those that invite small interventions between the poetic and scientific, philosophical and humorous, intimate and political. www.lucycash.com
Lucy McLauchlan is internationally recognised for her monochromatic large-scale paintings for galleries, museums and site-specific installations including on gigantic billboards in China, huts in The Gambia, Italian water towers, a Norwegian lighthouse, car parks in Detroit, and abandoned subway tunnels in New York. Implicit within her work is a deep respect for nature as she draws inspiration from her immediate environment; allowing it to inform and direct what is an intuitive and explorative process. Recent exhibitions include a solo show, Where Were You Before Now, Fluorescent Smogg Gallery, Barcelona (2015) and the group exhibition, Small Worlds, The New Art Gallery, Walsall (2015). www.lucy.beat13.co.uk
David Nash was born in County Cork in Ireland, and currently lives in London. His poems have been published in various magazines and anthologies, and he is currently working on his first collection. www.davidnashpoetry.wordpress.com
James Nixon has an MA Creative Writing from Royal Holloway, University of London. He was the RHUL Emerging Writer Fellow at Cove Park in May 2015 and his poetry features in Ambit, Neon and The Cadaverine. @j_a_nixon
Stick In The Wheel are Nicola Kearey and Ian Carter. Their intent is to encourage people to re-engage with their past, and to act as a voice linking now to then. They have worked with Caravanserai for Canning Town Light Night and the Nest Collective for Folk Rising at the Vault Festival. They have been commissioned by the BBC and for other film, television and commercial releases. They were nominated for a BBC Folk Award 2015. Kearey was a member of Mary Ward Sonic Arts Group and the Wrong Ensemble, and Carter is a sound designer, composer and producer, releasing records under the name EAN. He has worked with Ghostpoet, Gerry Mitchell and others. www.stickinthewheel.com
Duncan Robertsonand Lucía Montero.Duncan Robertson is an artist with a background in theatre and performance. Lucia Montero is a visual artist working with moving image, sound and photography. Her work has been shown in festivals such as The Day of the Dead, femCode <Art+Women+Technology>, MIMA Festival and Incubarte.
In 2013 Robertson and Montero began working with Nomad Projects preparing the site at Bethnal Green Nature Reserve for the Phytology medicinal meadow. VOICED originates from their research into the cultural heritage of British medicinal plants and the creation of a contemporary archive set up to explore this in relation to Phytology and the local community.Their interest in oral traditions and sharing this knowledge evolved into VOICED, a site-specific sound installation and collaborative project exploring the cultural heritage of the Bethnal Green Nature Reserve through song and spoken text. www.duncanrobertson.info / www.luciamontero.com
Sam Wallman is a cartoonist, comics-journalist and editor. His work has been published by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, SBS, Overland, Internazionale and Dude Transzine. In 2014 he was nominated for a Walkley journalism award, and was recipient of the media Human Rights Award for his collaborative piece At Work In Our Detention Centres: A Guard’s Story. He has previously worked as a trade union organiser, and currently works out of an art studio in the old tower of Trades Hall in Melbourne, Australia. www.peneraserpaper.com
Sarah Westcott has a science degree and an MA in poetry from Royal Holloway, University of London. She grew up in north Devon on the edge of Exmoor, and is inspired by the natural world and the places where human and non-human intersect. Her pamphlet Inklings was a winner of the Venture Poetry Award and the Poetry Book Society’s Pamphlet Choice for Winter 2013. Her poems have been published in Poetry Review, Magma and Poetry Wales and anthologies including Best British Poetry 2014. Slant Light, Westcott’s first full-length collection is published in April 2016and includes her poems for VOICED. www.literary-loper.blogspot.co.uk
Phytology brings artists and botanists together to explore the medicinal properties of plants that are common to derelict urban environments. Thirty-two species have been sown on a specially created site in Bethnal Green Nature Reserve including yarrow, white dead-nettle, mallow, ribwort plantain and red clover. Generally regarded as ‘just weeds’, each plant has been selected for its on-going use in phytotherapy and traditional medicine. Phytology invites visitors to explore the site and harvest and use the plants for medicinal and nutritional purposes. It also aims to challenge ideas of use, value, resilience and the function of wildness within our urban ecosystem. www.phytology.org.uk
Established in 2009, Nomad Projects is an arts production agency that promotes action-based research and collaborative encounters in the public realm. Artist commissions include the award-winning feature-length film series Ourhouse by Nathaniel Mellors (at Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston until 4 June 2016); documentary film’s Vision Quest and School of Imagination by Marcus Coates; and The Memory of W.T Stead, a site specific performance by Lundhal & Seitl at Steinway & Son’s factory and showroom in central London. www.nomad.org.uk
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