Phytology is a cultural institute based at the Bethnal Green Nature Reserve in Tower Hamlets, East London.

We host an annual residency for researchers working across the arts, architecture, science and humanities. Our public programme actively engages with the environmental and social complexities of the surrounding urban landscape.

The projects page on this website highlights some of our past and current work.


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Phytology is a Nomad Projects commission.

Supported by the Wellcome Trust and Arts Council England.

Site credits: Design by Modern Activity, build by Patrick Best.

The Phytology Team

Michael Smythe

Michael Smythe is an artist, campaigner and creative director of Nomad Projects (, an independent arts foundation that develops experimental projects across digital and location-specific spaces. Nomad Projects critically engages with issues surrounding environmental and social justice within the urban landscape. 
Current work includes Urban Mind (, a global research project investigating the relationship between the landscape and mental health and Mobile Apothecary, a herbal medicine dispensary providing free healthcare to individuals and communities with limited access to quality health support.
Michael studied installation, performance and art history at the Australian National University, Canberra, and Hochschule Der Künste, Berlin.

Naseem Khan

Naseem has worked as both as an independent consultant and Senior Associate with Comedia. Her background is predominantly as an advisor for cultural strategy. Amongst others, she has worked for the V & A, Arts Council England, BBC, Moti Roti, Sound Sense, Centre for Contemporary Arts Nottingham, and most recently was part of a group that won funding from the Cultural Leadership Programme to debate and create a manifesto for socially-engaged arts.

Colin Nightingale

In 2002 Colin joined Punchdrunk, one of the UKs leading immersive theatre companies. Colin has helped to realise all major projects since Woyzeck (2004) including The Firebird Ball (2005), the awarding winning Faust (2006), The Masque of the Red Death (2007), Tunnel 228, in conjunction with Kevin Spacey and the Old Vic Theatre (2009) and the double award winning It Felt Like A Kiss at Manchester International Festival (2009). As Senior Producer Colin has managed the successful staging of the company’s first international project, Sleep No More (2010/11) Boston & New York City, USA.

Teesdale and Hollybush TRA

The Teesdale & Hollybush TRA is a voluntary community group based in the heart of Bethnal Green, East London. The TRA aims to promote social cohesion with environmental rejuvenation and sustainability improving the quality of life for the 320 homes and approximately 1,500 residents across the estate. Over the last four years the community group have turned multiple areas of disused land into vibrant urban growing oases. These projects strive to bring the community together creating opportunities for residents on the estate to interact with each other regardless of ethnicity, culture, age or gender.

Dr. Peter Giovannini

Dr. Peter Giovannini is currently the International Projects Officer for Kew Royal Botanic Gardens. Between 2004 and 2011 he conducted ethnobotanical field research with indigenous peoples in Mexico, and the Bolivian and Ecuadorian Amazon. Peter has had his research published in academic journals and taught ethnobotany as Specialist Associate Lecturer at the University of Kent. Recently, he was part of a group of international experts that urged the development of a global program on the conservation of useful plants and associated knowledge.

Cape Farewell

Cape Farewell has, since 2001, been collaborating with the world’s leading climate scientists and our most influential artists to instigate a cultural response to climate change. Cape Farewell maintains that climate change is a cultural, social and economic challenge that has to be moved beyond the scientific and abstract debates. By bringing together artists, scientists, communicators and cultural opinion formers they endeavour to develop creative ‘works’ that act as a catalyst for change. Using creativity to innovate, Cape Farewell engages artists, writers, poets, musicians and film makers for their ability to evolve and amplify a creative language, communicating – on an emotional level and on a human scale – the urgency of the global climate challenge.