Royal Botanical Gardens

If there’s no greater honor than saving a life, imagine the boss status that comes with saving an entire species. Those bragging rights belong to horticulturalist Carlos Magdalena, who single-handedly brought a very special African waterlily back from the brink of extinction.

Discovered by Professor Eberhard Fischer in 1987, the world’s smallest waterlily, Nymphaea thermarum, was found growing exclusively among the hot springs of southwestern Rwanda. Alarmed by their rapid disappearance in 2008 due to the exploitation of the plants’ water source, Professor Eberhard quickly sent seeds of the remaining waterlilies to Bonn Botanic Gardens for preservation. Eventually the seeds made their way to Kew Gardens in London where horticulturalist Carlos Magdalena began his life-saving research.

After much trial, error and frustration, Magdalena’s perseverance led to him to a crucial discovery. Unlike most waterlilies which grow submerged deep underwater, the Nymphaea thermarum actually thrives in warm mud. By maintaining steady of temperatures of 25°C along the banks, Magdalena has been able to cultivate over 30 healthy new plants which are currently on display at Kew Gardens.

If you’d like to help prevent plant extinction but lack the botanical skills, you can adopt a seed from Kew Royal Botanical Gardens in London for £25. They’ll even throw in a personalized certificate, so your friends will know your hero status is legit.


Battle of the Titans - Troodon life-size replica

From October till the end of January I was working at Hall Train Studios for Seonna Taisteal Travelling Exhibit inc.’s “Battle of the Titans.” The show opened on January 26th 2013 at the Royal Botanical Gardens and will run there until April 7th 2013.  This is a another part of the exhibit (click here to see life size T-Rex and Triceratops) life-size replica of a troodon.


In the second chapter of his book Symbolic Logic (1892), C.L Dodgson, whose everlasting name is Lewis Carroll, wrote that the universe consists of things which can be ordered by classes and that one of these is the class of the impossible. He gave as an example the class of things which weigh more than a ton and that a boy is able to levitate. If they don’t exist, if they were not part of our happiness, we would say that the books of Alice [Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871)] correspond to this category. In effect, how to conceive a work that is not less delightful and inviting than The Arabian Nights and that is likewise a plot of paradoxes of logical and metaphysical order? Alice dreams of the Red King, who is dreaming of her, and someone warns her that if the King awakens, she will go out like a candle, because she is no more than a dream of the King that she is dreaming. In regard to this reciprocal dream that well could have no end, Martin Gardner recalls a certain fat woman, who painted a thin female painter, who painted a fat female painter that painted a thin female painter, and so on to infinity.


The layers of meaning embedded in representations of the human form and the complex relationship between the dialectics of the viewer and the object are at the core of the works in a Secret Affair: Selections from the Fuhrman Family Collection. The exhibition takes its name from Secret Affair (Gold), 2007, a stainless-steel sculpture by the Scottish artist Jim Lambie comprising the outline of an oversized keyhole placed incongruously in the landscape on the grounds of Laguna Gloria.  In this work, a simple framing device becomes an Alice in Wonderland portal to a secret garden, an irresistible invitation to what lies beyond and a metaphor for the infinite possibilities that exist between the corporeal and the abstract.

Text Citation:  Top: An excerpt from Jorge Luis Borges’s preface to the Spanish translation of the works of Lewis Carroll’s (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) published in 1976. For more, click here.  Bottom:  An excerpt from “The Subversive Body,” an essay by Heather Pesanti, included in the catalogue accompanying the exhibition A Secret Affair: Selections from the Fuhrman Family Collection, on view at  The Contemporary Austin from May 3 – August 24, 2014. For more information, click here.

Image Credits: Left: Installation view of Jim Lambie’s Secret Affair, 2008, at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Scotland. Right: Installation view of Jim Lambie’s Secret Affair (in the trees), 2007, part of the exhibition Reconstruction #2, Sudeley Castle, Cheltenham, United Kingdom.



Mushroom by Ruth Nolan

Willow Sculptor and Artist Tom Hare - The creation of the Fungi Fairy Ring - Kew Royal Botanic Gardens Autumn Festival 2013.

The video shows the process of creating large scale willow sculptures. Each sculpture is crafted by hand around a steel frame, one plant stem at a time and took several months to complete.

The commission consists of 29 individual items in seven clusters. These sculptures were installed along Kew’s Central Avenue to form a ‘Fairy Ring’, and which in turn are part of Kew’s IncrEdibles Festival, which focuses on edible British vegetables and fungi.

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