durational performance: 1 hour
"Parlour Jardin"; University of Oxford Botanical Gardens; Oxford, UK. 2012
Edith Nesbit is one of the best British fabulists who wrote children’s books. The Wonderful Garden (1911) brings us into the world of three children who brew spells and magical cures using the plants they find in an Edwardian garden.
Leafing through a yellowed copy of The Wonderful Garden I tear out brittle pages, one at time, and hold them up to the flame of a beeswax candle.
Warmed by the fire, invisible words – scripted in lemon juice – appear like magic: Hemlock. Bella Donna. Spurge Laurel. Monk’s Hood. Moonseed. Nightshade. Rosary Pea. Baneberry. Oleander. Doll’s Eye. Angel’s Trumpet.
These charming names belong to plants commonly found in home gardens due to their beauty and fragrance.
They also happen to be lethal.
When ingested even in tiny amounts, death – by asphyxiation / edema / convulsive seizures / renal tubular degeneration / retinal hemorrhage / widespread internal lesions – swiftly follows.
photos by: Steven Sharpe
* Special thanks to Steven Sharpe for wonderfulness.