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Displays Decoded by Alex Hirtzel

Wednesday 7 July 2021 at 10:00 am to Friday 1 October 2021 at 4:30 pm

This year sees the return of art in the Garden with Alex Hirtzel’s ‘Displays Decoded’, an interactive exhibition enabling visitors to see the natural world as they’ve never seen it before.

Alex has collaborated with University behavioural ecologist Dr Dave Lawson and his colleagues in the School of Biological Sciences to examine previously undiscovered ways in which pollinators are attracted to and interact with plants, collectively known as ‘sensory modalities.’

Through interactive sculptures, ultra-violet prints and heat sensitive materials, Alex’s artwork demonstrates some of the principle modalities: scent, UV light and colour patterns, static attraction and the cellular structure of the flowers themselves. Her work re-constructs 17th century Dutch flower paintings from the Broughton Collection at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge in a series of prints called ‘Tipping Point,’ with vases toppling over to reflect today’s global ecological crisis.

Other aspects of her work are more interactive, and visitors to the Garden will have the opportunity to experience for themselves how bees and other pollinators sense static from flowers, or are affected by a flower’s scent.

Alex Hirtzel speaking about the exhibition said: “COVID-19 has made me rethink how to present ideas to a wide range of audiences and I chose to use augmented reality (AR) as a medium to further express the scientific storytelling and need for playful interaction.”

Dr Dave Lawson added: “Certain aspects of floral displays are obvious to us as humans, such as scent and vision, but there are many avenues of communication employed by flowering plants that are hidden to us. It’s so exciting to be working alongside Alex Hirtzel and the Botanic Garden on a project that reveals these hidden facets of floral displays to a wider audience.”

To visit the exhibition will need to book online; click here for Garden entry tickets. 

Meet the Artist and the Scientist

An exciting opportunity to meet the artist Alex Hirtzel, and behavioral Ecologist Dr Dave Lawson as they talk you though the ‘Displays Decoded’ exhibition. Alex Hirtzel will discuss her work in progress and themes of the exhibition. The talk will be followed by a short tour of the Botanic Garden with Dave Lawson looking at different flower pollination mechanisms. Please allow approximately 1 ½ hours for this event.

Three dates available:

Tuesday 27th July, 2pm

Friday 20th August, 2pm

Wednesday 8th September, 2pm

Tickets £7 members £12 non-members including entry to the garden. Book here.


Wednesday 7 July 2021 at 10:00 am
Friday 1 October 2021 at 4:30 pm
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University of Bristol Botanic Garden
The Holmes, Stoke Park Road, Stoke Bishop
Bristol, BS9 1JG United Kingdom
+ Google Map
0117 42 82041

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