I am interested in the ideas that make us. Joseph Hooker an important 19th century naturalist and explorer was the leading botanist of his day, pioneered the discipline of geographical botany, and served as President of the Royal Society from 1873-1878 and as Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (1865-1885). He became a life long friend and correspondent of Charles Darwin. Their correspondence began in 1843 when Hooker, just returned from James Clark Ross’s Antarctic expedition, was approached about working on Darwin’s collection of plants from the Beagle voyage.
Their correspondence and the archives of JD Hooker’s life, housed in Kew are a rich source of ideas for my new work.
Joseph Hooker writes to Darwin about new Rhododendron species found in Sikkim. Many of these are the source of new hybrids that now populate the UK including Kenwood. Photographs taken by me at Kenwood are used as ‘sketches’ for this work.
The triptych background colour is the same blue grey of the paper used to correspond in the mid 19th Century. The writing is directly taken from one of J D Hooker’s letters to Darwin. To me handwriting is a very personal reflection of a person and perhaps in future will rarely be used. Communication between people seems to be rapidly changing.
Extract from Hooker letter to Darwin from Sikkim 24 June 1849:
‘My dear Darwin’
‘…. the blaze of Rhod[odendron]. flowers & various colored jungle proclaims a differently constituted region in a naturalists eye & ten twenty species here, to one there, always are asking me the vexed question, where do we come from?’
‘Your affectionate friend Jos D Hooker’