The Gardener's Secret
The gardener of the grounds of St John at Hackney Church and St Augustine’s Tower stashes her tools in the bottom of the disused, mediveval tower. On the other side of the cemetery, stands the impressive and worndown tomb of a family of once-famous gardeners and nurserymen, whose elaborate glass houses and arboretum, teeming with exotic species, was once situated a ten-minute walk away. The Loddiges Nursery, started by German immigrant Conrad Loddiges, was hugely influential in the global movement of plants from the late 1700s to mid-1800s, when it lost its lease due to increased demand for residential housing. For this brief period it was a key player in transplanting thousands of different species around the globe, feeding a passion for 'exotic' plants in the UK and abroad. In the 21st C, we are more aware of how problematic introducing new species into vastly different contexts has been. But climate change also means that historically stable climate regions are shifting too, meaning peoplpe and plants have to move to survive. The Gardener’s Secret (2022, video and mixed media installation) delves into this local and global botanical history, using archival materials as well as footage of the current site of the tomb and tower.
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