The Plant centres each issue around a different plant, and issue 11’s spotlight is on Aloe Vera. But besides its usual array of horticultural tips and illustrations, this issue focuses on the current political climate, offering itself as a reflection of the chaos of its time.
The magazine like to looks beyond the obvious. Plants are not just plants; trees become communal spaces, art pieces and symbols of hope in a chaotic world. The opening piece sets the magazine’s urgent pace, as it considers the juxtaposition of open landscapes and closed borders, with its focus on the Mexico –US border (above). Ryan Lowry photographs lush grasses and spiking cactuses set against imposing signs and high fences.
The following piece, by Hans Ulrich Obrist, artistic director at the Serpentine Galleries, explores an opposing relationship between man and nature, as it details plans to construct a man-made tree on the Serpentine Lawn (above). The structure is being built by Francis Kéré, an architect from Burkina Faso, who has been inspired by his hometown’s central meeting point; a tree. The design is what Kéré describes as a micros cosmos, or a ‘world in miniature’. It combines elements of architecture and nature, showing how both of these things can work in harmony.
Later, we are introduced to Mercedes Villalba’s ‘Fervent Manifesto’, which speaks of how we are in times of resistance (above). Villalba uses nature’s resilience as inspiration for our own. Admiring nature’s refusal to ever sit still, she looks at fermentation and funghi; examples of how every surface ‘is brimming with life and time’. Lindsay Sekulowicz’s piece also brings time into account, as she offers Amazonian artefacts (below), which are all made from organic materials, to show how we have used nature to cultivate our lives for thousands of years.
There is also a strong focus on women, particularly those who, as the opening statement describes, ‘play with the scale of dreams and envision a better world through beauty and wisdom’; among them are botanist Anna Atkins, florist Constance Spry, artist Niki de Saint Phalle (below) and photographer Jackie Nickerson.
Through its wide scope of thoughtful content, The Plant shows its persistence to deliver relevant and conscientious issues. The Aloe Vera issue has been chosen as our Magazine of the Week because it is almost a manifesto itself; it shows us the different ways we are able to utilize nature during times of adversity.