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The fox got you - the relationship between plants and medicine

One of the images from the art and science exhibition 'The fox got you' Fran├žoise Sergy

Press release issued: 12 July 2016

A contemporary photographic and science exhibition that explores the relationship between plants and medicine by celebrating six common plants, which are the origin of five major medicinal drugs, opens at the University of Bristol Botanic Garden this Friday [15 July].

The fox got you, an exhibition by photography artist Françoise Sergy runs from 15 July to 11 September 2016, 11am to 4 pm, in the Bradley Room at The Holmes.  Françoise started the project as a way of saying thank you to the plant goat's rue, which indirectly keeps her alive as the drug metformin is part of her diabetic treatment.

Plants have existed for millions of years, far longer than humans. They have had time to adapt to their environment, to evolve and deal with threats through infinitely slow genetic changes. The molecules they offer people often act in mysterious ways and how some of them work, despite centuries of use, are still being discovered.

Nick Wray, Curator of the Botanic Garden, said: "I am delighted we are able to host this exciting contemporary exhibition. Plants have been part of our medical world since man first walked the earth, firstly as food then through selection as dedicated medicines. This exhibition, which focusses on some of the well-known medicinal plants, will help highlight to visitors the origins of some of our important medicines, whilst the Botanic Garden grows many plants used in traditional medicine an area of scientific investigation which may have potential for the drugs of tomorrow."

The exhibition brings together the plants, the drugs, the clinicians, the patients, the people making the drugs and the scientists researching how these diseases affect our body. The artist has worked with them all over a long period. Françoise has photographed, recorded and learned from them and different viewpoints have been allowed to influence one another.

The artist has been inspired by scientific images, moving freely between the worlds of plants and human biology, exploring the unfathomable complexity of living organisms. By revealing the powers behind some of the plants growing in the Botanic Garden, this exhibition offers a unique insight into the way humans are made and changed by the natural world.

The plants featured are:

  • Foxglove (Digitalis lanata and Digital Purpurea) and the drug digoxin for the treatment of heart arrhythmia;
  • Goat’s rue (Galega officinalis) and the drug metformin for diabetes;
  • Yew (Taxus baccata) and the cancer chemotherapy drugs paclitaxel and docetaxel;
  • Autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale) and the drug colchicine for gout;
  • Meadowsweet and willow (Filipendula ulmari and Salix alba) and aspirin.

The fox got you, a photography installation, interactive exhibits and wall mounted artwork, will open on Friday 15 July until Sunday 11 September 2016.  The free exhibition, with entrance to the Garden, will take place in the Bradley Room at The Holmes (adjacent to the Devers Room where refreshments are served), University of Bristol Botanic Garden, Stoke Park Road, Stoke Bishop, Bristol BS9 1JG.

Further information

About the Botanic Garden

The Botanic Garden has a strong evolutionary theme and cultivates over 4,500 plant species forming four core collections that illustrate plant evolution, plants from Mediterranean climates, useful plants and rare and threatened native plants to the Bristol area. 

Star attractions include an amazing dell demonstrating the evolution of land plants including the dinosaurs' favourite plants: ginkgos, cycads, tree ferns, monkey puzzles and Wolly, the Wollemi Pine.  Other delights include the Chinese and Western herb gardens and an inspiring display of plants illustrating floral diversity. 

Opening times
The Garden is open from 10 am until 4.30 pm.

Until October: Open seven days a week
November: Open Monday to Friday, closed on weekends.
December: Open Monday to Friday, closed on weekends and from 24 until 31 December.

Admission is £4.50 adults; free to University staff and retired staff, Friends of the Botanic Garden, students and children under 16.

Teas served from the Devers room in the Holmes will be available on the terrace over Easter, at weekends until the end of May, seven days a week during June, July, August, and September and at weekends in October for garden visitors.

Dogs (except registered disability assistance dogs) are not permitted in the Botanic Garden.

The garden is largely accessible for wheelchairs and mobility scooters with a designated path leading around the garden and glasshouses. Disabled toilet facilities are available on site.

Pre-booked guided tours of the garden for groups of ten upwards are available seven days a week.  Please contact the garden for further information.  There is a charge for the guide.

Directions to the Botanic Garden
From the city centre go to the top of Whiteladies Road, at the junction and traffic lights go straight ahead across Durdham Down towards Stoke Bishop. At the traffic lights go straight ahead and take the first turning on the right into Stoke Park Road, The Botanic Garden at the Holmes is 150 m on the right.  The postcode for sat nav is BS9 1JG.

Members of the public wishing to support the work of the Botanic Garden should join the Friends of the Garden. For more information go to the Friends of the Botanic Garden or write to Susan Redfern, The Membership Secretary, 24 Dublin Crescent, Henleaze, Bristol BS9 4NA.

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