The Botanic Garden

Photograph of an ornate library with pillars, busts and pictures. A woman in red reads from a long table.

Library, The Linnean Society, London. Publications Manager Leonie Berwick researches the origins of the genus Roscoea. January 3rd 2008 © Jyll Bradley 2008

20 September 2008 - 1 March 2009

Free entry

This photographic installation by visual artist, Jyll Bradley, was a response to Liverpool's long botanic history. It comprised a suite of back-lit photographs (lightboxes) showing five panoramic images of a fantasy botanic garden. In one lightbox two botanists press an orchid in a herbarium; in another two security guards settle in for a palmhouse nightwatch.

Liverpool's famed botanic gardens, which were founded by William Roscoe in 1803, were originally sited on a hill above the city. For more than two centuries the collection was a wandering one, being re-housed in the city twice. When the gardens were finally shut in the 1980s, the plants were removed from public view and dispersed. Over the previous year Bradley carefully researched the story of these gardens and the collection, contacting and connecting the different modern custodians in different parts of the world. This installation drew together these people and places to create Bradley's own fantasy garden, one which does not exist.

Early Western botanic gardens gathered together plants from around the world, creating an urban 'elysium'. Just looking at such a garden was thought to heal the viewer. This installation drew on the hope, still held by many people, for the creation of a new garden, and suggests that in these disparate times the image itself becomes a form of wish-fulfilment.


Mr Roscoe's Garden

This installation was part of Jyll Bradley's 'Fragrant' project, commissioned by Liverpool Culture Company for European Capital of Culture 2008. The other major output is her book, 'Mr Roscoe's Garden'; an exploration of the story behind The Liverpool Botanical Collection, one of the world's greatest plant collections. In the book Bradley provides a virtual visit to the gardens and reflects on the meanings of gardens.


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Fragrant was been developed and produced in collaboration with London Artist Projects, and curated by The Bluecoat, in partnership with National Museums Liverpool, Liverpool City Council's Library Service and Parks and environment Service.

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