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25 September 2018

The Impossible Garden

The Impossible Garden is a set of experimental sculptures, by Bristol artist Luke Jerram, inspired by visual phenomena. The exhibition, open to the public until Sunday 25 November at the University of Bristol Botanic Garden, aims to enhance our understanding of vision.

Over 15,000 visitors have explored the garden since it opened in July, discovering 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. 

Luke Jerram said: "It's amazing so many people are coming to see the exhibition. Many have never been here before and didn't even know Bristol had a Botanic Garden!

"As someone who is red-green colour blind, I'm fascinated by the processes of visual perception. In August we invited a group of people who were colour blind to test some glasses, which can counter the effects of red green colour blindness and it was so interesting to watch the results. In fact, it got quite emotional for some participants as they saw a spectrum of colour they had never enjoyed before."

The intriguing 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.

Cathy has seen how the exhibition is helping to start discussions about vision and she hopes it will lead to greater public understanding about the many processes involved in "seeing". Families tell her that lack of understanding is often a barrier to getting support for children with many kinds of visual impairment.

As part of the residency, Luke (well-known for the  Museum of the Moon and street pianos artwork Play Me I'm Yours), worked with researchers from the University of Bristol's Bristol Vision Institute (BVI), Bristol Eye HospitalBotanic Garden and spent time with visually-impaired children to increase his knowledge of visual perception.

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 and I would encourage everyone to visit the exhibition." 




Find out more here  The Impossible Garden