The Jane Phillips Award and an orchid house

I came across the photograph of John Dillwyn Llewelyn’s Orchid House on Google almost a year ago just before I moved to Swansea. The photographs depicts a luxurious group of orchids growing on a large shelf or table with a slanted ceiling with a skylight and in the background, various vines growing in the darkness. This photograph is not a straightforward document of orchid specimens but an example of an enthusiast’s collection and this really intrigued me.  

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Being the recipient of the Jane Phillips Award has given me support to make a new body of work investigating this curious photograph of the first orchid house built in the United Kingdom. Now orchids can be bought from supermarkets for around five pounds and you will see puckered and painful orchids displayed in the windows of Swansea tattoo parlours but they weren’t always this common. Victorian botanists and collectors would pay the equivalent of millions for a rare specimen of this plant.  As part of my research into this plant I am going to meet with Welsh orchid enthusiasts and also visit the Marianne North gallery at Kew Gardens.

At this early stage I have no idea what form the work will take but orchids are found on almost every continent so I could end up anywhere…

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