Bloom

by Edward Chell

Dimensions: 177 x 250 mm  
Format: Hardback
Pages: 96; illustrated in colour throughout
Publisher: Horniman Museum and Gardens
Contributors: Edward Chell, Tim Corum, Anna Ricciardi and Hugh Warwick
Language: English
Place of publication: London
Date of publication: 2015

Bloom by Edward Chell
(9781903338056)

£15.00

Special delivery rate applies:
£2.85 each

synopsis

Bloom is published by Horniman Museum and Gardens to accompany Edward Chell’s exhibition Bloom, installed in the museum’s Natural History Gallery until 6th December 2015.

Both exhibition and book take as their starting point the exquisite ‘sun prints’ made by Anna Atkins, the 19th-century pioneer photographer and natural historian. One of Atkin’s rare folios documenting British seaweeds forms part of the exhibition and is at the core of the publication.

The word ‘bloom’ conjures images of both extravagant floral beauty and toxic algal growth. The tensions between beauty and corruption, surfeit and depletion, discovery and loss inform both exhibition and book.

Bloom includes three essays. The first, by artist and writer Anna Ricciardi, pieces together a portrait of Atkins, a significant but relatively overlooked figure, and gives insights into the social milieu that enabled her to produce her cyanotypes. What drove Atkins to make these extraordinary works which are as much artistic expression as scientific record?

Edward Chell’s essay discusses cultures of collection and display, from the early Cabinets of Curiosities and 19th-century herbariums to the museums we inherit today and records of present day extinctions. Chell reflects on the layered narratives of plant collecting and its ecological implications.

Ecologist Hugh Warwick tracks the arrival of ‘alien’ plant species in Britain and questions the value judgements we make about such plants and their environmental impact. Whilst looking back to the Columbian Exchange and subsequent plant migrations, he asks what the genetically modified future holds. What happens when our botanical interventions go wrong and our best intentions undo themselves?

Edward Chell participated in the Swedenborg Society's 2010 bicentenary exhibition, Fourteen Interventions, his installation piece, Ten Steps to Heaven, was doanted to the Society and can be viewed in the staircase at Swedenborg House.