Shadows of former King's College labs fill Somerset House Inigo Rooms in Plant Science

By Culture24 Reporter | 13 May 2013

Exhibition preview: Plant Science, Somerset House East Wing, London, May 16 – June 11 2013

A photo of various laboratory taps in the shadows
© Chris Wainwright
The former Plant Sciences Department labs of King’s College London, in Herne Hill, are about to be demolished and replaced by housing.

But before that, installation artists Ewan Forster and Christopher Heighes are reassembling “oddly significant” mementoes of the dusty old research spaces within three rooms of Somerset House – partly as a celebration of the innovative teaching once held there, partly as a reclamation of some of the scientific and pedagogical apparatus used to make it all happen.

“We’ve become very sensitive to how former uses leave powerful traces, even among the most banal of objects,” they hypothesise, looking back on 20 years of playfulness within unusual or abandoned buildings.

“In Plant Science, we've attempted to create an environment for a spectator to physically experience the archive of a building and to access the innovations and pioneering research that took place there through the language of its fixtures and fittings."

It sounds like a heady homage to the past of 68 Half Moon Lane, transported to the neoclassical Inigo Rooms of the East Wing. Two years of work have gone into the layout, which is their first since 2004’s Trans Mittere, at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral.

Cold stores, growth rooms and glasshouses all feature, evoking the memory of soon-forgotten facilities where Nobel Prize winners once plied their trailblazing trade.

  • Open 11am-6pm. Admission free. Follow the college’s Cultural Institute on Twitter @KingsCulture.

More pictures:

A photo of a laboratory vessel with liquid in it
© Chris Wainwright
A photo of a large greenhouse
© Chris Wainwright
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