- Heinrich & Palmer
- Hampshire Cultural Trust
- Gosport Museum and Art Gallery
To celebrate the opening of Gosport Museum and Art Gallery following a major capital development project, a specially commissioned new video artwork created by duo Heinrich & Palmer reveals plant life from the local area in a unique and fascinating manner.
Titled Alien Native, the installation is a film, which has been edited to create a multi-channel projection onto a large, translucent screen hung from the ceiling space in the building’s main gallery. Inspired by plants growing locally and Hampshire Cultural Trust’s botany, or herbarium, collection – which consists of 27,000 specimens, principally collected from across the historic county – the exhibition explores so-called alien plants, introduced by human activity, and their native counterparts, which are either indigenous species, or arrived ‘naturally’ in Britain and Ireland following the end of the Ice Age.
The installation creates an immersive and otherworldly experience which explores the subtle nature and movements of plant life and our attempts to capture, study and understand it.
When they began to research the project for Gosport Museum and Art Gallery, Heinrich & Palmer found themselves drawn towards the herbarium’s vast archive of dried and pressed plants, lichens and fungi, many of which originated from Hampshire, with some dating as far back as the 18th and 19th centuries.
“We were curious to explore how this archive could inform our current understanding of the environment and the biodiversity of the Gosport area – are the common plants of the past still as prolific, or have new species taken their place?” – Anna Heinrich
Using the herbarium archive collection of local specimens as a guide, Heinrich & Palmer then identified a selection of common flowers in the Gosport area and used them as subject matter to record the effects of time on the plants’ morphology and movements, using a combination of extreme slow-motion film and time-lapse photography.
The resulting film follows a journey made by a group of alien Dalmatian White foxgloves and their encounters with other plants such as the native teasel, yellow horned poppy and ragwort. The artwork reveals individual plants and their environments evolving over time and shown at a height of over five metres, presents the viewer with an extraordinary sense of scale and movement.
The artists have also created a soundscape to accompany the projections. Developed from recordings made in the field, the evocative sounds of the Hampshire countryside are brought into the gallery, including the sounds of wind, rain and pollinating insects and birds.
The installation is accompanied by specimens from the herbarium collection.
“Alien Native is a video artwork developed from ideas of wildness, authenticity and classification in response to Hampshire Culture Trust’s herbarium collection. The characterisation of the plants also suggests a human element to this journey of migration and assimilation.” – Leon Palmer
Arts & Heritage played a key role in the selection of the commissioned artists:
“Arts&Heritage has really enjoyed partnering with Hampshire Cultural Trust to establish a contemporary art commissioning strand to their Gosport exhibition programme. […] This fantastic project demonstrates how working with artists can add new insights, create new conversations and involve wider communities in museum programmes, opening up museum collections for refreshed explorations and creating new, impactful museum experiences.” – Stephanie Allen, Arts&Heritage
Alien Native is the first in a series of three commissions for Gosport Museum and Art Gallery. In 2023, it will host a new exhibition by Mary Branson, who is renowned for her large scale conceptual light sculptures and installations, with contemporary artist and film maker Tom Dale showing his specially created new work in the gallery in 2024.
Tara McKinney Marinus, Visual Arts Exhibitions Manager at Hampshire Cultural Trust, says:
“At such an exciting time for the opening of Gosport Museum and Art Gallery following its refurbishment, this is a perfect opportunity to introduce an ambitious series of specially selected artist commissions to celebrate the Gosport area. Working with such nationally significant artists responding to the depth of our collections will offer our visitors both immersive and thought-provoking experiences, as well as simply joyful new encounters with contemporary art in the gallery.”
Gosport Museum and Art Gallery sits on the High Street in the centre of the town. Formerly Gosport Grammar School, the Grade II listed building has undergone a major, £1.4 million refurbishment project in 2022 to transform it into a cultural hub for the whole community. The refurbished building blends history, heritage, arts, education and culture all under one roof, with a programme of exhibitions, talks, workshops and events, as well as curriculum-linked science and history sessions for schools. Gosport Museum and Art Gallery is home to an art gallery, museum, a community gallery, play gallery for under-fives, learning rooms and a café. The refurbishment project has been made possible by funding from a number of sources, including Gosport High Street Heritage Action Zone programme led by Historic England, Arts Council England, the Foyle Foundation, Gosport Borough Council, donations from individuals and groups, including the Friends of Gosport Museum, as well as investment by Hampshire Cultural Trust. Hampshire County Council is a key supporter and major funder of the project.
Artists Anna Heinrich and Leon Palmer have worked together since the early 1990s, after meeting in Cardiff whilst studying Fine Art. They have a cross-disciplinary practice which encompasses installations, interventions, large scale projection events, films and photography. The pair work with digital media, projection, sound, light, optics and photography and frequently juxtapose ephemeral media with physical materials and structures, to suggest alternative or ambiguous meanings. Many of their projects evolve through a process of research, engagement or collaboration with people from other disciplines such as architects, engineers, programmers and fabricators. Heinrich & Palmer have been awarded numerous commissions, working with museums, heritage sites and collections; which include Chester Cathedral, Crossness Pumping Station in London, Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Gallery, National Railway Museum, Hull Maritime Museum and National Trust properties such as Lindisfarne Castle, Mottisfont Abbey and Lacock Abbey.
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