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The Impossible Garden

The Impossible Garden on BBC Points West

Dazzle one of the Impossible Garden exhibits

One of the 12 exhibits, 'Dazzle'

Press release issued: 25 September 2018

Over 15,000 visitors have explored the Impossible Garden exhibition at the University of Bristol's Botanic Garden since July. Open until the end of November, this unique collaboration between BVI and artist Luke Jerram, aims to enhance our understanding of vision, as both the BBC and ITV have reported

The Impossible Garden is a set of 12 experimental sculptures, designed to help promote understanding and stimulate debate about how visual impairments can affect our perception of the world around us. It is a unique collaboration between artist Luke Jerram, BVI, the Botanic Garden (redirected) and the University of Bristol Eye Hospital.

Luke Jerram said: "It's amazing so many people are coming to see the exhibition. Many have never been here before and didn't even know Bristol had a Botanic Garden!

"As someone who is red-green colour blind, I’m fascinated by the processes of visual perception. In August we invited a group of people who were colour blind to test some glasses, which can counter the effects of red green colour blindness and it was so interesting to watch the results, captured by both BBC Points West and ITV News. In fact, it got quite emotional for some participants as they saw a spectrum of colour they had never enjoyed before."

Cathy has seen how the exhibition is helping to start discussions about vision and she hopes it will lead to greater public understanding about the many processes involved in "seeing". Families tell her that lack of understanding is often a barrier to getting support for children with many kinds of visual impairment.

Professor David Bull, Director of Bristol Vision Institute, added: "The collaboration with Luke is a fantastic opportunity for us to explore the power of visual illusions. Understanding how they work can tell us a lot about the properties and limitations of our visual system and I would encourage everyone to visit the exhibition." 

The Impossible Garden at the University of Bristol Botanic Garden will run until Sunday 25 November 2018 from 10 am until 4.30 pm, seven-days-a-week. 

Luke Jerram will be giving this year's Richard Gregory Memorial Lecture (BVI's founder) on 13th November, 'Exploring the Edges of Perception'. Booking is mandatory.

Read the full press release on the University of Bristol News page.

Further information

Arrival at the Botanic Garden
Parking is available on Stoke Park Road and around the Downs (five hours free parking).  For Blue Badge holders and those with restricted mobility parking is available at the Botanic Garden’s walled garden car park. For further details on public transport visit

About Bristol Vision Institute
Bristol Vision Institute (BVI) is the home of vision science research in Bristol and has been successfully stimulating research interaction and collaboration in science, engineering, arts and medicine since its creation in 2008. It brings together some 170 associates from engineering, computer science, biological sciences, psychology, ophthalmology, history of art, film & television and medicine with the aim of addressing grand challenges in vision research.

About Luke Jerram
Luke Jerram's multidisciplinary practice involves the creation of sculptures, installations and live arts projects. Living in Bristol but working internationally for 20 years, Jerram has created a number of extraordinary art projects which have excited and inspired people around the globe. 

Luke is known in the city for the giant waterslide 'Park and Slide' he installed down Park Street in 2014 and the flotilla of fishing boats exhibited in Leigh Woods for the Bristol Green Capital 2015. The artwork 'Withdrawn', acted as an events space and installation artwork for the public to explore.

Last year his installation 'Play Me I’m Yours' saw 20 street pianos placed across the city for everyone to play. Currently Museum of the Moon is touring the world. The artwork has just returned from the Commonwealth Games in Australia and touring India with the British Council.  

About the University of Bristol Botanic Garden
The Botanic Garden has a strong evolutionary theme and cultivates over 5,000 plant species forming four core collections that illustrate plant evolution, plants from Mediterranean climates, useful plants (including Chinese and Western herb gardens) 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 the Wollemi Pine.  Other delights include glasshouses, home to giant Amazon water lilies, tropical fruit and medicinal plants, orchids, cacti and a unique sacred lotus collection. 

The contemporary design of the Botanic Garden, its strong focus on educational and interpretation of science make it a unique place for the Impossible Garden exhibition.

The Botanic Garden is accessible to wheel-chair users and the brochure will be available in audio and braille.

About Bristol Eye Hospital
Bristol Eye Hospital is one of the country's leading specialist hospitals with an international reputation for the treatment of diseases of the eye, and highly respected as a pioneer in research, education and clinical practice. The hospital, run by University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, is supported by a wide range of staff including 29 consultant ophthalmologists, seven speciality doctors, optometrists, trainee doctors, clinical fellows, pharmacists and nurse practitioners.

Both adult and children are treated at the Bristol Eye Hospital for conditions including age-related macular degeneration, ocular motility, glaucoma, cataracts, uveitis, 440 emergency retinal detachment repairs per year involving children, young people and adults, the treatment of ROP in premature babies and more. Emergency care is given on site seven days a week, in the hospital’s accident and emergency department, with an average of 36 emergency surgeries carried out each month.

To find out more about Bristol Eye Hospital, visit their page on the University Hospital's Bristol NHS Foundation Trust website.

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