The Impossible Garden

Luke Jerram sits casually dressed on an over-sized picnic bench in the Botanic Garden
Luke Jerram on one of his exhibits.

We’ve always felt that art and the Garden work well together. Every Easter we run a sculpture exhibition which brings this home, plants and art are good friends; nature’s sculpture makes the Garden a gallery and placing human art amongst it embellishes both. With this in mind, for some time we’ve wanted to show a permanent summer exhibition but nothing has fit the bill.

Step in Luke Jerram this year. If art and plants are good friends, so are Luke and Bristol; he has created a perfect replica of the moon which is floating at various locations around the world at the moment; he created a giant water slide down one of Bristol’s busiest shopping streets for one day in 2014, a day that brought the city together, everyone was smiling; he also positioned pianos around the city for anyone to play, I’d love walking home from work to hear music drifting along the street. As you can see Luke is very much a force for good in the city, and unknown to us was regularly visiting the Garden with his family. So, when he contacted us to ask if it was ok to display The Impossible Garden here we took five seconds before nodding vigorously, yes please!

The exhibition sits well in the Garden and is the outcome of a residency at the Bristol Vision Institute (BVI); Luke is colour-blind and wanted to explore the processes and limitations of vision. With the help of Bristol University BVI researchers and the Bristol Eye Hospital he spent time with visually impaired children to help him understand. The result is a series of exhibits that are fun yet also thought provoking, making you question how you perceive objects, colours, reflections and patterns.

One thing that highlights the diversity of exhibits is that every member of the Botanic team has a different favourite showing that we all observe things in a different way from each other.

I think this is one of the best events we’ve had here at the Botanic Garden; it’s a real pleasure to see visitors ‘getting’ the exhibition, from youngsters to their grandparents. Everyone sits on the oversized picnic bench, peeps into the infinite pool, tries the door to nowhere and sits on the glitchy park bench.

It looks like Luke has nailed another one.

The exhibition runs throughout the summer and the Garden is open for seven days a week from 10 until 4:30; see you here!

Andy Winfield

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