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Notes from the Palm House – Gin Rimmington Jones

Conceived of as a series of five, these cruciform panels explore the space between plants as living matter in time and space, our culturally coded ideas of nature and the demands of commercial enterprise.

They form part of a body of work I have been making for the past six years in Stanmer Park, Brighton (UK), where there is a unique palm house built in 1952 by the council. Each visit brings a sense of anticipation, an excitement about encountering the seemingly abject plants pressed up against the panels of glass.

The man-made structure creates an enclosed space of disembodied natural processes that separates humans and nature, with the glass acting as metaphor for the lack of transparency between industry and the environment. The plants become objects; there is a disconnect between them and us, a disregard for the complexity of relations that we are engaged in with the earth. This artificial space seems to encapsulate the way we objectify, sanctify and crucify nature.

Just after these photographs were made, the Palm House was repaired for the first time in years; the glass panels were cleansed of their accretion of vegetal matter, the plants chopped back and ordered ready for a new season of growth. My work is ongoing.

My work explores the nested relationship between humans and the natural world that surrounds us, focusing on the tension between the idea of landscape and the experience of it. I focus on plants, water, and stones where they butt up against the human environment.

While my practice is research-based, I am more interested in our emotional and embodied response to landscape, and how we might navigate our way within that rather than a purely intellectual exploration. Endlessly fascinated by the evolving interrelationship between culture, nature and the image, my work questions the primacy of Western anthropocentrism and engages with the potential of the natural world’s relationship with us, exploring a kind of interior landscape. /

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