Melanie Jackson: The Urpflanze (Part 1)

The Urplanze (Part 1)installation at Drawing Room, 2010



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 Drawing Room, Jackson presents, The Ur-pflanze (Part 1),  the first stage of the 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. 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 newspaper will be printed in parallel with the exhibition. It is composed of articles, texts and images that have grown from a dialogue between the artist Melanie Jackson and the writer Esther Leslie.

Published by Drawing Room and Matt’s Gallery, funded by Arts Council England.