Deptford Pink

A few months back I created a piece of work in response to an artists call out from Artists For Plants, who were looking for pieces of work about plants that could be found in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a vault that houses thousands of seeds of a great variety of plants, as a longterm storage soloution.

I searched through the portal to see what plants might inspire me, and came across the Deptford Pink, and I could not resisit a response to this….

The Deptford pink is a rare flower native to Europe, and is thought to have originally been named by the 15th Century botanist Thomas Johnson, describing a pink flower he had seen in Deptford, South East London.  However, this has been questioned since, and it is thought he was probably describing its cousin, Maiden pink, and that the Deptford pink had not grown in the area since the city of London was built.

So, the Deptford pink was never seen in Deptford. As my studio is based in Deptford, South East London, I thought I would take a wander round and photograph pink things or ‘flowers’ that you can see in Deptford.

I curated the collection of photographs together onto one page, a mixture of real flowers, plants, random objects, food and posters that I spotted on a walk from my studio and down Deptford High Street. The eclectic mix is a snap-shot of Deptford, reflecting the community that live and work in this area of London.

I was also considering the term ‘plant-blindness’ ( inability to notice or recognise plants in one’s own environment) while collecting the photos, and how we recognise the most useless and mundane of products, but not the plants creating and supporting life around us.

I wanted to name my ‘flowers’, so I uploaded the photos I had taken to ‘PlantSnap’, an app that helps you identify plants you come across, to see what they might be ‘identified’ as. Each photo generated a different name, although some of the images I had to manipulate a bit to get a different answer! Interestingly, even some of the ‘real’ flowers, or pictures of flowers, were identified wrongly, but I kept these incorrect names. This leads to questions of our reliance on algorithms to make so many decisions for us now, how they can be manipulated to get the ‘right’ answer, or just give the wrong answer, which becomes the accepted interpretation (who’s to say that pink bin bag isn’t actually a Crimsoneyed rosemallow?).

Although my piece was not chosen for the final exhibition, it has been shared on their social media, and I had much enjoyment in the making of it.

Photographs of random pink things found around Deptford, South East London. Including some flowers but also food in packages, cleaning solutions, clothes and signs. These are placed in a grid of 8across and 9 down. Each one is labelled with a flowers name.

Deptford Pink, Digital image on Somerset velvet radiant white paper Size – 42 x 59.4 cm (A2)

You can purchase this print on the Garudio Studiage website

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