On Cultivation

In the last years of his life, Derek Jarman – artist, stage designer and filmmaker – set about cultivating a garden. The site, Prospect Cottage in Dungeness, Kent, was unprepossessing, located on a coastal headland – a barren shingle outcrop adjacent to a looming nuclear power plant. He had been diagnosed with Aids and was a making a public stand on how the media presented the illness. The garden represented a private space and may have been, in Dylan Thomas’ words a ‘rage against the dying of the light’. Jarman was, at the time, losing his sight.

In St Augustine’s, surrounded by a verdant garden, which includes an ancient burial ground, I have been cultivating a micro ‘garden’ using hydroponics. This involves growing plants in water with just a trace of nutrients. My interest lies in the root systems – making visible that which is usually hidden.

My experiments have had mixed results. Those cuttings I have kept in shade have been very slow to root. Containers I have placed on the windowsill have turned a startling shade of green and the plants are producing vigorous root systems.

These are my ‘swamps’.

Aristotle believed that time is the measurement of change. By harnessing nature through my plant experiments I am attempting to present visual evidence of time and change.