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Rooted Beings

  • Art
  • Wellcome Collection, Euston
  • 3 out of 5 stars
A Great Seaweed Day: Gut Weed (Ulva Intestinalis) by Ingela Ihrman
Wellcome Collection

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

You might think plants are just green things you somehow can’t manage to keep alive in your flat, but they’re so much more than that. Plants are political. And the Wellcome wants to show you how. 

Where normally with shows at the Wellcome there’s a big focus on science, here they’ve decided to take aim at the societal impact of plants, on how colonial explorers trampled on indigenous culture in the hunt for new species, destroyed habitats, ruined lives all in search of monocultures and profit.

There are a few bits of archival material here – an ancient image of a comfrey on papyrus, a nineteenth century drawing of fungi, a beautiful circular depiction of jain cosmology – but most of the show is new contemporary art. There’s a huge passion flower costume and seaweed sculptures by Ingela Ihrman, a plane tree outfit by Edward Navarro and ‘foraged’ sculptures by the Resolve collective. Best of all is a wall of pretty drawings by Joseca, a Yanomami artist from the Brazilian Amazon.

But the show doesn't quite work. Most of the art really isn’t great, and the lack of the usual Wellcome science knowledge and archival ephemera throws everything out of whack. It needs context, directness, and most of all – just like nature – it needs balance. 

Written by
Eddy Frankel


Wellcome Collection
183 Euston Rd
Tube: Euston Rail: Euston

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