Chiara Dellerba‘s The Chimera Plantarium project, which looks at mapping, rethinking and redesigning public places from the perspective of “weeds”, continued with the second of a series of workshops with children at Exeter – A Learning Community Academy, in Corby.
Beginning with a recap of the last session Chiara showed the class how she’d been digitising and adding to their plant mask designs which will form the basis of a forthcoming billboard image in Corby later this year.
Continuing to imagine the world from the perspective of plants, children worked in groups to create their own plant-alien communities who were visiting Corby on their trip to earth, using post-it notes to record group and species names, descriptions of how they travelled to earth, where they lived and what they ate.
Maps were drawn of areas of Corby the plant-aliens would colonise, with lists of rules established for rules the plant-aliens would live by.
The Vegan Plant Aliens classed themselves as cannibals as they ate other plants, living in a scientific farmer’s compound, and weren’t allowed to go outside unless they were in groups, to stay safe from humans.
The Green Pack had an island that grew trees, chrysanthemums and other flowering plants.
One table described War Plant Aliens that would kill all the carrots and Brussels sprouts on earth!
Another decided they were LGBTQ Aliens, that would hold protest marches through Corby and the woods that they live in.
After lunch, Chiara showed some examples of plants that she had picked on her walk into the school and talked about some of the useful properties of these species. Leading a walk around the boundary of their playground and estate, children picked a favourite plant from their expedition, making rubbings with charcoal and recording information about their selection.
Back in the classroom samples were combined with rubbings and descriptions to begin to form a Herbarium publication. As a final task pupils wrote letters to nature from the perspective of their chosen plant, considering what changes the plants might like to see in the world.
The Chimera Plantarium is generously funded by Northamptonshire Community Foundation’s Leslie Church Memorial Fund. Commissioned as part of Xylophobia, Fermynwoods Contemporary Art’s new two-year programme funded by Arts Council England. Named from the fear of wooden objects or forests, Xylophobia addresses issues of place and belonging which go to the heart of community feelings of exclusion from both the art world and woodland spaces.