A New Plant Species Walks - At The Tatton Park Biennial

By 24 Hour Museum Staff Published: 07 August 2008

a photo of robots with mantice like legs covered in fern leaves

Fernbots, the creation of Paulette Phillips for Tatton Park Biennial 2008. © Paulette Phillips

An exciting new plant species has begun to populate Tatton Park’s Rose Garden - and it’s much livelier than most of its green neighbours.

Artist Paulette Phillips’ concept for Tatton Park Biennial 2008 is a herd of solar-powered ‘fernbots’ that roam the drained bath of the Rose Garden Pool. The lively and intriguing plants move at will, searching out their life-giving light.

“We were delighted by Paulette’s proposal for the Biennial and are thrilled by the realisation of the work,” said Biennial curators, Danielle Arnaud and Jordan Kaplan.

“It is both fun and funny but, if you look deeper, there is also a sense of entrapment and claustrophobia, suggesting the plants’ imprisonment at the hands of the ‘collector’!”

Phillips drew inspiration for her robotic plant pieces from a number of sources including Tatton’s historic Fernery and the Victorian craze of exotic plant-gathering.

a computer drawing from above showing the fernbots in an empty swimming pool

© Paulette Phillips

She wished to add to Tatton’s collection by bringing a ‘new species’ to Tatton from her native Canada, the Walking Fern or Asplenium rhizophyllum. This fern throws down its fronds, which then take root in the soil, endlessly repeating the action and allowing the plant to relocate as soil conditions dictate.

Her creations, like all plant forms, take energy directly from the sun thereby moving, albeit more dramatically and quickly than other plant forms.

Tatton Park Biennial is a new contemporary art event taking place between May and September 2008. Its theme for 2008 is Botanical Collections and Collectors. There are a number of Biennial events taking place over the weekend of August 9 and 10 2008. See www.tattonparkbiennial.org for more details.

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