press release

Melanie Jackson has been investigating links between industry, aesthetics and plant forms, taking a lead from Goethe's notion of the Urpflanze. The Urpflanze - or primal plant - is Goethe's imaginary plant that contains coiled up within it, the potential to generate all possible future plants. Contemporary plant science similarly assumes the ability to create as yet undreamt of botanical objects, using an array of tools and techniques, such as nanoscience, transgenics and biomimicry. Paradoxically science also looks to primordial plant matter for clues on how to proceed. Plant science becomes an art of morphology and mutation, re-presentation and transformation, characteristics it shares with the medium of drawing.

For her solo exhibition at The Drawing Room, Jackson presents The Ur-pflanze (Part 1), the first stage of an ongoing investigation. An analogy is made between the gallery, greenhouse and laboratory. Using all the imaging technologies available to a non-scientist, Jackson articulates these curious transformations of form and scale, and shifts in time. Drawing is explored in 2, 3 and 4 dimensional forms – with sculptures fashioned from newspaper pulp and wooden armatures, reanimated plant manuals and collages, graphite drawings, sound recordings, animations – and a film composed of photographic stills recording every living plant the artist came into contact with during the 12 months leading up to the exhibition, as well as filmed interviews with scientists. There is a fascination with the innate processes and forms of botanical morphology, and in the ways in which this enters the economy and the imaginary through technological intervention. Here might be found particles blown up 1000-fold, giant gourds, acid pink begonia, mystical banyan, primordial plant matter and the industrial plantation.

A publication in the form of a newspaper accompanies the exhibition that is composed of drawings, photographs, research evidence and texts that have grown from a dialogue between the artist Melanie Jackson and the Esther Leslie, writer and Professor of Political Aesthetics, Birkbeck University.

Melanie Jackson (b.1968 Hollywood, West Midlands, lives and works in London). Recent awards and residencies include: Winner Jerwood Drawing Prize, 2007; short-listed for the Whitechapel MaxMara art prize 2007; ACE International Fellowship to research island occupations in the East Indian Ocean, 2006. She has exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally. Melanie Jackson has recently been appointed as Head of Undergraduate Sculpture at Slade School of Fine Art.

only in german

Melanie Jackson
The Urpflanze (Part 1)