Quarantine Herbarium is a participatory botanical
photography project led by William Arnold, Gem Toes-Crichton and John A.
The project coalesces disciplines of art-making, science,
botanical observation and research practice. Facilitating a thoughtful
re-connection to the natural world and empowering audiences by offering them
agency to participate in a wider creative practice.
Quarantine Herbarium seeks to alleviate symptoms of plant
blindness* through a hyperlocal focus on flora while salving the monotony of
lockdown through engagement with the accessible historical photo method of
cyanotype sun-prints. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Cyanotype paper with
instructions for use is posted to participants to make unique plant prints to
be compiled into both an online and physical collection of specimens. The
lockdown forced a focus on that which is close to home, so it is hoped that the
Quarantine Herbarium will form an important record of an unusual interaction
with an oft overlooked part of the natural world.
Weeds are much encouraged but plant specimens must be
collected from the participant’s gardens, or area immediately adjacent to their
homes. The project was conceived during the strict Covid-19 national lockdown
of March and April 2020 and as per government guidelines on travel and
permitted exercise, no ‘plant collecting’ trips are allowed.
*Plant Blindness, a term coined by botanists James Wandersee
and Elisabeth Schussler in 1998, refers to a cognitive bias in which we
struggle to recognise and appreciate the value of diverse flora over zoological
forms, especially prestige species.
Quarantine Herbarium was grateful to receive funding from
FEAST and The Eden Project/ Arts Council England towards running costs and remains a live project as
of late 2020. The online gallery is on Instagram @quarantineherbarium