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The biggest exhibition in the history of London's oldest botanic garden set to open
Peter Randall-Page, 'Parting Company II', 1996. Golden limestone.

LONDON.- Pertaining to Things Natural… A major outdoor sculpture show opens on 10 July at Chelsea Physic Garden. The exhibition, a collaboration between Art Happens and Chelsea Physic Garden, presents monumental sculptural works, ephemeral land art projects and delicate interventions by over twenty leading artists.

Curated by David Worthington, Vice President of the Royal British Society of Sculptors, Pertaining to Things Natural… takes its name from the 17th century definition of ‘physic’ and is a reminder of the Physic Garden’s founding mission as a place for the study of useful plants especially those used in medicines.

Artists: Owen Bullett, James Capper, Annie Cattrell, Jo Coupe, Joe Currie, Judith Dean, Chris Drury, Tessa Farmer, James P Graham, Greyworld, Tim Knowles, Tania Kovats, Keith Rand, Peter Randall-Page, William Peers, Michael Shaw, Ward & Wright, Julian Wild, Hugo Wilson and David Worthington.

Pertaining to Things Natural... offers a compelling insight into contemporary creativity inspired by the natural world. Whether or not the works are a specific response to the Garden, the artists’ proposals share the desire to use the exhibition as an opportunity to add to the environmental debate, offering fresh ideas to maintain the momentum of change. The exhibition comes at a key moment in the environmental debate when activism and argument have been replaced instead by a growing sense of resignation to the inevitability of environmental degradation. The facts become more apparent daily but the arguments have already been spelt out and if the public no longer listen, then neither will the politicians. Radical new solutions are needed.

In response the exhibition will also see a parallel research programme, organised by Art Happens, Eden Lab and The Eden Project, which sets out to consider opportunities for presenting and dealing with environmental issues through contemporary art practice.

Artists change society at a visceral and elemental level. They achieve change by engaging our senses and spreading new ideas as suggestions rather than demands. The current objective of the ecology movement is to change lifestyles and by building an aesthetic that embodies a sound environmental perspective, artists have the potential to provide a channel to communicate at a deeper level than through polemic. The one day conference, Artistic Strategies for the Environment, will consider ways artists contribute to social and environmental change, looking at existing projects and offering fresh, meaningful ideas.

By offering this platform to artists Pertaining to Things Natural... hopes to construct visual and sensory metaphors that reach a wider audience through positive, physical and emotional experiences. As environmental organisations consider new ways to engage the public in environmental issues affecting the planet, artists continue to make a significant contribution through the development of a language that resonates with people on a more profound level, helping to create a strong cultural response to the challenges of the 21st century.

Curator, David Worthington said: “The opportunity to stage an exhibition in the grounds of Chelsea Physic Garden was exciting to me as it was to the other participating artists. The whole project has grown organically in response to the history and legacy of the garden and its scientific work. The more all of us researched into that history the more we discovered. As a result the idea came to me to organize a conference around the show looking at how artists could respond to the environmental debate in their practice. We are very grateful for the enthusiasm of the directors of Chelsea Physic Garden as well as the team of gardeners who have been enormously helpful to the artists at every stage of the work.”

Eden Lab Creative Director Peter Hampel said: “The collaboration with The Eden Project also allows us to look at ways of building an enduring platform for artists to contribute to the ecological movement through future exhibitions and creative projects and will help forge international partnerships to take our work to a global audience.”

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