All Heal (Valerian)
'All Heal (Valerian)'
17 February - 1 April 2017
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is a member of the Valerianaceae family; It is a perennial plant native to Europe and Asia; Growing in marshes, fens, alpine meadows, wet woods, rough grassland, dry calcareous soils; Valerian carries a distinctive odour that people find unpleasant, though cats are fond of it; A bridal couple should wear a crown of valerian flowers against the envy of elves; Beehives are protected against predatory bees by placing valerian in its vicinity. Valerian is a common ingredient in products promoted as calming nervous tension and insomnia; Preparations of valerian are made from its roots and stems, prepared as teas or tinctures, extracts compressed into capsules. Valerian goes by the name All Heal.
In the summer of 2016 we travelled to Dungeness in the South of England – only a half hour drive from the Canal passage – to Prospect Cottage, the garden and cottage of filmmaker and artist Derek Jarman (1942-1994). Somehow, this visit had to happen and as it did, this garden in the unlikely British desert of shingle, without borders, just a horizon, nested itself in our conversations on art and life in general.
All Heal (Valerian) is a gathering of works and voices, departing from Prospect Cottage. Jarman described his garden as modern nature, as the natural world against all odds, as a site where plants stand for an actively professed and undefeated refusal to obey. Botanical taxonomy captures every plant’s name, roots and history, but plants are also beings with a will of their own. Plants grow following their gardener's itinerary, and yet never appear to fully comply.
For Jarman, plants evoke memories: ‘I have always loved Valerian. It clung to the old stone walls of the manor at Curry Mallet which my father rented in the early fifties, and grew in the garden of the bomb-damaged house at the end of the road which the airman Johnny, my first love, took me to on his motorbike, with my hands in his trouser pockets – so valerian is a sexy plant for me’ [fn.]Derek Jarman, Derek Jarman’s Garden, 2012, p. 53.
Prospect Cottage ‘seems to stand as a monument to fragility and defiance’ [fn.]George McKay, Radical Gardening, 2011, p.145. The garden was, as Jarman wrote not just a retreat, rather ‘a therapy and a pharmacopoiea, therapeutic in its peacefulness’; gardening as an act a form of green therapy. Throughout those brief years, the garden and ‘his illness became a site of production, a catalyst for thought as much as a subject’ [fn.]Mason Leaver Yap, Notes from the interior: Moyra Daveys’ Notes on Blue, 2015..
All Heal (Valerian) brings together works that each in their own way relate to the possibility of the garden, of escaping life within the garden and to come to an understanding of what life is through gardening.
With: Derk Alberts, Jonny Bruce, Keith Collins, Moyra Davey, Elspeth Diederix, Amelia Groom, Sara Sejin Chang (Sara van der Heide), Alhena Katsof, Jort van der Laan, Charlotte Rooijackers, Werker Magazine and many others. Curated by Laurie Cluitmans and Jort van der Laan.
\\ Made possible with the generous support of the Amsterdam Fonds voor de Kunst, Mondriaan Fund, Gerrit Rietveld Academy and Prize for Young Art Criticism \\