Chelsea Physic Garden
Identity, Exhibition Design, Interpretive Display, Research, Writing
For LGBTQ+ History Month, Chelsea Physic Garden collaborated with Queer Botany to look at plants and the Garden through a queer lens. Queer Botany aims to share marginalised perspectives, support more diverse representations in the environment and outdoors, and acknowledge connections between queerness and plants.
Historically the LGBTQ+ community has been stigmatised and often referred to as being ‘unnatural’, however the natural world has many connections with queerness. One set of examples can be found in the sheer variety of plants and their reproductive methods. Concepts such as science & culture, male & female, human & nature are often contrasted in stark binaries, but queerness favours multiplicity and gradients. There is a peculiar cultural link between queerness and the symbolism of flowering plants, which can be found in the terms ‘pansy’, or ‘a streak’ or ‘dash’ of lavender’. There are many applications of floral symbols to reference homosexuality, especially in literature. Moving forward, we want queer stories from culture and nature to be more broadly interwoven into our understanding of the world.
In addition to the outdoor trail exhibition, there was programming in the forms of a talk, guided tour, botanical drawing session, and poetry reading. Materials were chosen based on environmental impact, opting for biodegradable and renewable plant-based resources. The displays were made from responsibly sourced birch plywood for the plant labels and organic linen for the larger displays. The map was 3-colour offset printed on recycled paper. All printers were UK-based.
QR codes on the map and plant labels link to pages on the Garden website with extended text, images, and resources.
Head of Learning and Public Engagement at Chelsea Physic Garden: Katy Parry
Head Gardener at Chelsea Physic Garden: Nell Jones
Making and Installation: Rosa Pascual
Artist & Illustrator leading Queer Botanical Drawing Session event: Edward Luke Thrush
Installation: Lucy Hayhoe
Copy Editing: Kiron Ward
Consultation for Poetry Reading event: Fraser Buchanan
Poetry Reading Host & Poet: Carlos Mauricio Rojas
Poets: Jack Cooper, Lateisha Davine Lovelace-Hanson, Imogen Aoife Ann Mansfield, Danni Spooner
Printers: Prinfab, Aldgate Press, Bespoke Laser UK
Special Thanks: Xavier Llarch Font and Andy Stevens