Columbus of Horticulture

Animation (5mins 15s), 3D printed objects, glass dome, acrylic board, tea tree seeds (Camellia sinensis)

This work stems from Vvzela Kook’s on-going research about the role of botany in the history of imperialism. Botanical science became an important part of empire-building for European countries during the 16th to 19thcentury, as maritime exploration often profited from the discovery of valuable exotic plants. Focusing on theBritish colonial “plant hunter,” who searched the empire’s colonies for precious plants and seeds to bring back to the royal botanical gardens, this animation simulates the frenzied excitement of discovery, as well as the colonial desire to scour new botanical resources. While the animation imagines a fictional island, accompanying objects encased in glass vitrines model actual botanical specimens such as rubber tree, tea tree and orchid, all connected with the colonization of South America, India and Hong Kong.

Text by Joyce Hei-ting Wong