Grid like structures have been prominent in my observations, and the grid feels like a key motif to explore further. This image sequence was taken from a path at Chelsea Physic Garden, looking up through a trellis grid.
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Whilst walking around Chelsea Physic Garden I considered the idea of what a garden was and the tension between organic elements and the artificial in garden spaces – where nature is framed by or frames manmade geometry.
I think the idea of a garden being a balance of natural ingredients and synthesised process also applies to medicine.
Specimens from Chelsea Physic Garden on and in the CT scanner. The idea of inside/outside is a key theme, particularly ideas of looking into new spaces, making the inside visible and bringing the outside inside.
Thanks again to Radiographer Nelly and Allison from Chelsea Physic Garden for allowing me to take these samples.
Axial scan of Datura Stramonium. Also known as Jimsonweed, Thorn Apple or Devil’s Snare!
Thanks to Radiographer Nelly for her help capturing this!
Another plant I found at Chelsea Physic Garden was Datura Stramonium, used to treat lung conditions – appropriate given Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals specialise in the treatment of lung disease. Interestingly this plant is also associated with more esoteric uses and “The ancient inhabitants of what became central and southern California used to ingest the small black seeds of datura to “commune with deities through visions.”(Wikipedia)
I was drawn to the seed pods, reminiscent of Horse chestnuts. It was quite threatening looking and reminded me of a surrealist sculpture.
The visit to Chelsea Physic Garden highlighted the idea of ‘useful’ plants, something I had discussed with Carl about the planting in the King’s Garden at the Fulham Wing. I also collected a Poppy Seedpod and a Chilli, both used in Analgeisa to moderate pain as Morphine and Capsaicin. The specimen in the middle is a Banksia husk, native to Australia and eaten by the Aborigines before being used as throat medicine. Again I took X-rays with Nelly before we moved into the CT Scanner.
On further research I discovered the chemical symbol of Khellin. I hadn’t really considered plants and their by-products being represented in this coded, abstract way before. This may be something to consider and explore further.
I was also interested to read about drugs and new treatments developed at Royal Brompton in this article by Professor Dudley Pennell, Director of the Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance (CMR) Unit, Honorary Consultant at Royal Brompton Hospital.
Whilst most of my focus during my trip was on the immediate surroundings of the hospital, I did manage to visit Chelsea Physic Garden. One of the gardeners, Allison, was kind enough to meet and tell me a bit about the heritage of the site, the collection and her work.
She also allowed me to take some samples of plants used in medicine to scan. Of particular interest was Ammi Visnaga (pictured) which produces Khellin, a substance used to treat both heart and lung issues. I was then able to scan these in the CT scanners and in X Ray with the help of Radiographer Nelly.
Just another little glimpse of some composited animations from the scanning sessions. I’m still working through all the scans (over 50,000 images!) and am very excited by the results.
Again, huge thanks to Radiographer Harriet for her support and expertise.
Just beside the suspected Cherry Tree root, I noticed a Palm Tree stump in a broken pot, it’s root structure partially visible. It looked a bit worse for wear and Sean said it would be fine to take it for scanning. I wheeled this strange looking patient into the Radiology Department for scanning with Radiographer Harriet in the evening, getting plenty of funny looks along the way!
Alongside the directional scan slices, she was able to create a 3D visualisation of the stump/roots. This is a video of computer preview, so another layer of imaging.
I was interested to learn a bit about the hierarchy of the imaging process, where Doctors tend to develop these 3D scans in additional software, adding colour and specific details.
I hoped to find some roots to try in the scanners, so I was especially pleased to find what we suspect is a Cherry root (potentially of one the original Cherry trees) on Dovehouse St. One of the gardeners, Sean, informed me it had dislodged paving some years ago, but nothing had been done with it since. We checked to see if it was still attached, but it was dead, so Sean helped me remove it to be scanned.
My original thinking is that roots may inform the outcomes for the basement level. Then perhaps specimens found at street level and seedpods/berries theme the ground and 1st floor, so the building echoes the architecture of nature.
Prominent growing plants I did find in the streets were the famous Cherry trees on Dovehouse St. I took some rubbings of the bark texture and was also fascinated by the linear change in the bark pattern. I later discovered this was due to how the trees had been cut previously.
I was initially keen to seek out wild growing plants in the streets, but inspired by the Chelsea landscape, have become more interested in the idea of gardens. In particular finding glimpses into unseen, overlooked or secret spaces and considering organic forms contained within geometry. This idea of inside/outside and looking through into somewhere else is a continuing theme.