LIVERPOOL.- Following her year as artist in residence within the Liverpool Botanical Collection, international visual artist Jyll Bradley is ending on a high with a final dedication to the collection amassed by Liverpools celebrated son and cultural innovator, William Roscoe.
Commissioned to engage in a year long exploration of Liverpools extraordinary botanic history, Bradley will open her exhibition The Botanic Garden on Tuesday 16 September at the Walker Art Gallery, to coincide with the launch of her book Mr Roscoes Garden published by Liverpool University Press.
Both the book and exhibition are key outcomes of Fragrant Liverpool; a unique international art project conceived by Bradley to explore the dramatic story of one of the worlds greatest plant collections founded by William Roscoe.
Reyahn King, director of art galleries at National Museums Liverpool said:
We are delighted to have Jyll exhibiting her work at the Walker Art Gallery. Aside from his passion for plants, William Roscoe was also a great supporter of the arts, and our connections with him are still evident today. Many of his world class collection of early Renaissance paintings can still be seen in the Walker Art Gallery, and indeed his portrait hangs on the staircase very close to where Jylls work will be exhibited. Im sure he would have been proud to see the work that has gone into bringing his collection back to life through Jylls art.
The Botanic Garden exhibition has been especially created by Bradley for Liverpools Walker Art Gallery. A suite of back-lit photographic works, the five panoramic images exhibited each depict a working scene showing the every day life of the collection. Seen as a whole they suggest an idyllic garden, one which in reality does not exist.
The images used in the exhibition unite the disparate parts of the collection through the viewers imagination, revealing Bradleys discoveries and touching on the desires of many to see the once loved garden re-established in the city. Her discovery of the story of the collection continues in detail in her book Mr Roscoes Garden; the first of its kind to delve so far into the history of the collection. Much like the exhibition, the book acts as a virtual visit to these now mythic collections and gardens, revealing their story through images Bradley has taken, found or been loaned.
Jyll comments: After spending the last year exploring the collection in its entirety, I feel honoured to have been part of its history. Connecting with the custodians of the associate collections in Liverpool and beyond, all of which survive, I have often felt that the mythic garden somehow lives on.
When William Roscoe originally founded Liverpools first botanic garden 200 years ago, he gathered together rare and unique plants from across the globe to create a garden of great beauty and national importance. The act of gazing upon the completed garden was itself believed to heal the viewer, and I hope the culmination of this project goes someway to achieving that same reaction and enable its legacy to live on.
Liverpool Botanical Collection has an extraordinary history. Over the last two hundred years it has been housed in three Botanic Gardens in Liverpool, each in turn built, lost and mourned. The last garden closed in 1984 and the Collection was taken from public view where it largely remains today. A third of the Collection was put back on show in 2007 in glasshouses at Croxteth Hall and Country Park.
Councillor Berni Turner, Liverpool City Councils Executive Member for the Environment said: Liverpools Botanical Collection is one of the largest in civic hands and its wonderful that Jyll has been able to uncover and record its 200-year-old history.
The Botanic Garden will be displayed at the Walker Art Gallery from 20 September until 23 December 2008.
Jyll Bradleys book Mr Roscoes Garden, will be available from the Walker Art Gallery Shop from 20 September.
Jyll Bradley is an artist working with photography, text and installation. She is also an award winning writer for radio. Over the last five years the starting point for her practice has been the unique and complex connections humans have with plants.
Bradley's international projects include presentations at Museo D'Antioquia, Medellin, Colombia and Vitamin Creative Space Guangzhou, China (both supported by The British Council). UK shows include The British Art Show (Hayward Gallery and Tour); Spacex, Exeter, Maureen Paley Interim Art, London and Newlyn Art Gallery, Cornwall. In 2005 Bradley undertook a major commission for the re-opening of Arnolfini, Bristol.
Future projects include an invited residency on the Galapagos Islands through a programme established by the Gulbenkian Foundation and Galapagos Conservation Trust. Jyll Bradley studied at Goldsmith's College and the Slade School of Fine Art. She lives and works in London.
Jyll Bradleys artist residency Fragrant, has been developed and produced in collaboration with London Artists Projects; and curated by the Bluecoat in partnership with National Museums Liverpool, Liverpool City Councils Library Service and Parks and Environment Service.
The Fragrant project was commissioned by Liverpool Culture Company for the European Capital of Culture 2008.