My work, One is the loneliest number, presented a new practice-based creative work — ten framed starch print portraits of scientist Lynn Margulis. UK curator, Patricia Brien, invited me to make this new work for her exhibition, Plant Communitas, Museum in the Park, Stroud, UK (2–24 April 2022). Each leaf is carefully sewn to card and presented in a custom-made museum frame. Museum glass minimises reflected light to enable easy viewing.
Printing with light is at the heart of my work with photosynthesis. During photosynthesis, chlorophyll attracts photons of light and turns it into nurturing starch with the help of water. The ancient art of starch printing was used to smuggle plans across borders. Their pale cream surfaces contained secret information – millions of grains of starch formed from light shining through a photographic negative. Dried and slipped innocuously between pages of a book, the leaves waited to be mounted and stained with iodine. Scientist Lynn Margulis proved the organelle responsible for photosynthesis, the chloroplast, evolved when ancient bacteria merged with eukaryotic cells to become an entirely new symbiotic being. She postulated that we are all walking communities of our bacterial origins. My work, One is the loneliest number, presents ten starch print portraits of Margulis. The leaves express the paradoxical coincidence that Margulis, observer of chloroplasts and their leaves, now appears entangled with their liveliness.
Plant Communitas considered the agency of plants in the context of plant-human entanglements. Artists included: Diana Scherer (NL/DE), Madeleine Kelly (AUS), Sigrid Holmwood (SE/UK), Louise Amelia Phelps (UK), Gloria Petyarre, (AUS) Fiona Owen (UK), Annemiek de Beer (NL), Sir Sidney Nolan OM AC CBE RA Hon.RE (UK/AUS), Ingrid Pumayalla (UK/PE) & Cristina Flores Pescoran (PE), poet JLMorton (UK), Siren Wilhelmsen (NO), Emma Thistle (UK), Tim Parry-Williams (NO/UK), Mandy Martin (UK/ZA), Jack Everett (UK).
One is the loneliest number 2022 Starch print Ten frames 31 x 27 cm Photo: Stephen Lenthall