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Munich-Nymphenburg Botanical Garden

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2022

Jane Le Besque with physicist Alessandro Parisotto, physicist Brennan Goddard, poet Joël Bastard, botanist Frank Poly, Yannick Bonvin Rey, and Thibaud Messerschmid, scientific curator at the Munich-Nymphenburg Botanical Garden, Germany. 

THE JOURNEY, THE BEGINNING

The Sempervivum journey began in Vienne, France, at Franck Poly’s nursery. With a few specimens from Franck’s collection of mother plants and several hundred hybrids in the car, the journey continued towards Geneva, Switzerland. The aim of the trip was to buy many varieties of Sempervivum (houseleek) to plant in a roof garden. A selection of Franck’s collection is displayed on the windowsills of the Green Room.

 

GERMINATION

“Sempervivum Rickshaw” grew when Jane Le Besque, wanting to learn more, approached scientists to help her create a platform to research the history, anatomy, chemistry and medicinal uses of the plants.

 

OFFSPRING, FIRST GENERATION

    “Painting”

The excitement Jane felt watching the rosettes grow, their intricate geometric patterns and logarithmic spirals, their mammal-like anatomy and their varied survival techniques, textures and colours, inspired her to paint 101 Sempervivum portraits.

    “Artificial intelligence”

Her enthusiasm for Sempervivum motivated physicist Brennan Goddard to “harvest” hybrids using artificial intelligence. He fed AI software with Jane’s original paintings and used generative techniques to create artwork, paintings and videos with musicians.

    “Nano-imaging”

Alessandro Parisotto, soft matter physicist, joined Rickshaw to explore the limits of the visible using electron and light microscopy. From a selection of varieties, Jane and Alessandro created images of leaf tips of tiny daughter plants, revealing individual characteristics of the plants.

    “Poetry”

Jane created artist’s books on Sempervivum with poet Joël Bastard, which were published by Éditions Negro Solimöes.

 

THE FIRST EXHIBITION

During the Covid years, the offshoots were exhibited at the Geneva University Hospital (HUG).

 

OFFSHOOTS, SECOND GENERATION

    “Traces”

Yannick Bonvin Rey uses rosettes and leaves as brushes to reveal the individual traces or signatures of different Sempervivum varieties.

    “Botany”

Thibaud Messerschmid, the scientific curator at the Munich-Nymphenburg Botanical Garden, presents earlier research results on the evolution of Sempervivum for this exhibition.

 

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES

Jane and Yannick are currently working together to plan another journey for the Sempervivum Rickshaw. 

Jane Le Besque