If the general definition of a ‘weed’ is taken to be ‘a plant in the wrong place’ or ‘a plant growing where it is not wanted’, what then is the right place for a plant to grow?
Project: The Ragwort (work in progress)
Supported by a bursary from a-n The Artists Information Company, London, UK
Ever heard of the Yeti or the Jabberwocky?
What about the Ragwort?
Who are they?
What are they?
There is a plant named the “Oxford ragwort”.
What do you think of when you hear this plant’s name?”
Image from the website: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2381806/Ragwort-Plant-kills-horses-infested-countryside-animal-groups-warn.html
Oxford ragwort, you are everywhere or elsewhere.
Research Clip from The Ragwort, 42 sec, Ellie Kyungran Heo on Vimeo.
If I were you, I wouldn’t come down either.
You took root next to a chimney or on walls of stone, all around the United Kingdom.
Was this a nostalgic act?
You brought me to Mount Etna in Sicily, an active volcano, where you are from, where you have taken root, and then…
.. you made me think where I should.
PS: people call you Senecio squalidus in Sicily and ‘Oxford ragwort’ or a ‘weed’ in the UK. What would you like to be called?
Senecio squalidus is a yellow-flowering plant native to Mount Etna, Sicily. The plant was introduced to Britain in the early 18th century in Oxford; its means of arrival are unknown. But there are some records on those who were involved in the plants’ migration: one Italian monk, a British diplomat, and the Duchess of Beaufort who were passionate about collecting plants from wherever they could. There was also the head of the Oxford Botanic Garden who worked with the Duchess. Following many years of cultivation in the Garden, the Sicilian plant escaped into the wild and began to grow on the stonework of Oxford’s colleges. The seeds of the plants spread even further, reaching as far as Oxford Railway Station, and from there, to various sites across the UK. This Oxonian origin gave the plant its common name, “Oxford ragwort”, classified as a weed in its new home. Professor Simon Hiscock, Director of the Oxford Botanic Garden, says, “Oxford ragwort is an extremely successful colonizer”.
Reference: Hiscock SJ., Genetic control of self-incompatibility in Senecio squalidus L., Heredity (Edinb). 2000 Jul;85 (Pt 1):10-9.
In the Autumn Science Lectures at the Oxford Botanic Garden, Dr. Dawn Sanders asks, “Vad se du? / What do you see?”
Dawn’s research questions:
– How might plant-based sensoric experiences influence human perceptions of plants?
– How might story-based scientific narratives concerning individual plants impact on ‘plant-blindness’ in didactical situations?
– By ‘looking through an artistic lens’ is it possible to appreciate/identify plants in new ways?
Loud sounds of dawn. Extreme wide-down view. The One is at the centre of green with its head lying on the edge of a pillow. Sounds of the wind getting stronger. While they wave and wave busily, the one is crouching in no hurry.
Sounds of the green heavily shaking and bumping into each other. Close-up view. Eyes squint, opening gently. The sky squints following the eyes. Clouds come forth from the sleep in the eyes then spread to both side ends. The sudden appearance of the sun dazzles the eyes. The sharp air tickles the tip of a nose. Dry saliva passes through the throat. Under the cover of the bed, something jumps up at the nape of the neck, following the stem of the back and scurries to the right foot. As it hits the heel, each toe furls, from the little toe to the big toe. Sounds of giggling.
They begin to wave more strongly. The One’s eyes stare at them, twirling around, and the back bends the other way slowly then stretches out quickly. The left arm rises up, leans to the right and twists to the right leg. The left leg bounces up and the toes fiddle the air. The crumpled white blanket flies away by a left kick. The body gets into the green. Elope!
Three inches from the ground. The arms stir them up and around erratically, bare hands bump into sharp ones and continue to annoy them despite their fuss. The back bends upward and sideward. Flexibility! Hairs stick to the dry and tumble before the eyes. The knee joints lead to unexpected instability in the foot. Suddenly all eyes, including you, the viewer, burst into the sky.
An old man shouts, “Hey, what are you?”
– Part of the draft description of the scene The Ragwort by Ellie Kyungran Heo