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Reflecting on The Impossible Garden Project

DECIDE, Impossible Garden, Luke Jerram

'Upon Reflection'

Pixel Girl - now at Pegaus School, Patchway

'Pixel Girl' will now reside in a Bristol school for pupils to enjoy

Landscape, Impossible Garden, Luke Jerram

'Landscape'; whatever grows in this six-sided mirrored room is reflected infinite times

21 December 2018

Just as Luke Jerram’s sculpture ‘DECIDE’, located in the Botanic Garden’s pond, was a nod to the current (and ongoing) flux of the country, so we wanted to take a moment to reflect on the impact of the Impossible Garden project.

This unique and exciting collaboration with BVI, artist Luke Jerram, the University of Bristol Botanic Garden and the Bristol Eye Hospital saw twelve experimental sculptures placed with the Garden for four months. It provided both Luke and BVI the opportunity to explore optical phenomena, spark debate about how we see and how visual impairments can affect our perception of the world around us.  Watch our video to understand more.

We were delighted that over 18,000 visitors went to the Botanic Garden between July and November, with hundreds sharing their photos on Twitter and Instagram (using #ImpossibleGarden) and BVI getting considerably more clicks through to our website during the exhibition. Both BBC Points West and ITV West News attended when we had a special viewing in August for people who were colour blind and we secured coverage in the Bristol Evening Post, BBC Radio Bristol and even The Guardian! 

Students, staff and members of the public including of course lot of children enjoyed the exhibits, with the super-sized bench ‘The Shrinking Device’ being a particular hit! One group of school children from the Pegasus School in Patchway are the lucky owners now of four of the exhibits (Pixel Girl, Dazzle, Shrinking Violet and Concentrate). It seems the calming environment of the Botanic Garden, along with the stimulation of the exhibits had a really positive effect on the pupils; we are thrilled the children will be able to continue to enjoy them. Discussions are still underway about which exhibits will remain in the Botanic Garden.

Cathy Williams, Reader in Ophthalmology at the Bristol Eye Hospital, and who works with children with visual impairments commented, “Families often tell me they struggle to explain to others about their child’s visual needs. This exhibition has been a wonderful way to engage with the general public about vision and “seeing” and so to spread awareness and increase understanding . The Impossible Garden resulted from a 9-month  residency Luke had with BVI, supported by the Leverhulme Trust.  As an artwork it has been more effective at communicating complex ideas than I ever imagined and am grateful to Luke for his inspiration and the many people’s hard work in bringing this project to fruition”. Impossible Garden brochure (PDF, 780kB)

Nick Wray, the Botanic Garden curator reiterated, “The Impossible Garden exhibition has allowed us to view the Botanic Garden in a different way and understand better the elements of colour, scale and perspective, all so important in any successful garden. This collaborative venture has also attracted thousands of people to enjoy this creative thought-provoking exhibition, and the delights of the Botanic Garden”.

Thank you again to all involved for helping make this project so successful and we hope to be able to work with both the University of Bristol's Botanic Garden and Luke Jerram in the future. 

Happy Christmas everyone!

Further information

Keep following us on Twitter @VisionInstitute  as our plans evolve and if you visit the Botanic Garden, see which of the Impossible Garden exhibits are still there!

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