Quarantine Herbarium is a participatory botanical photography project led by William Arnold, Gem Toes-Crichton and John A. Blythe.
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