The Impossible Garden
13th July - 25th November

The Impossible Garden

When: 13 July to 25 November 2018

Where: University of Bristol Botanic Garden

What: Is the Impossible Garden?  (watch this video)

The Impossible Garden is a unique set of new experimental sculptures, by artist Luke Jerram, inspired by visual phenomena. The exhibition's aim was to enhance our understanding of vision and was open to the public from July to November 2018 at the University of Bristol Botanic Garden.

As visitors explored the garden, they discovered 12 engaging art exhibits, designed to help promote understanding and stimulate debate about how visual impairments can affect our perception of the world around us. For those with visual impairments, both audio and braille copies of the brochure were available.

The unique idea of The Impossible Garden came about after Luke’s nine-month residency at the Bristol Eye Hospital and BVI, funded by the Leverhulme Trust. Luke applied for the residency together with Cathy Williams, a member of BVI and a Consultant in Paediatric Ophthalmology at Bristol Eye Hospital. As part of the residency, Luke worked with BVI researchers, Bristol Eye Hospital, Botanic Garden and spent time with visually-impaired children to increase his knowledge of visual perception.

Posters highlighting some of the reseach done by BVI can be found here BVI research posters (PDF, 2,734kB)

Cathy believes this exhibition has encouraged greater public understanding about the many processes involved in “seeing”, because families tell her that lack of understanding is often a barrier to getting support for children with many kinds of visual impairment.

Well-known for the Museum of the Moon and street pianos artwork Play Me I’m Yours, Luke Jerram said: “As someone who is red-green colour blind, I’m fascinated by the processes of visual perception. Over the years, many of my artworks have explored the processes and limitations of vision. The Impossible Garden has allowed me to test new ideas and share my findings with the public.”

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.”

This exhibition, created as a aset of experimental sculptural artworks, has provided me with an opportunity to explore new optimal phenomena, test ideas and share my interest in visual perception with the public.

Luke Jerram

Richard Gregory Memorial Lecture

Luke Jerram presented the 2018 Richard Gregory Memorial Lecture, “Exploring the Edges of Perception”.

This annual lecture is held in memory of Professor Richard Gregory, the inspiration behind the formation of Bristol Vision Institute. 

Luke’s first artwork “Retinal Memory Volume” was inspired by Richard Gregory’s book “Eye and Brain”.

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