Jyll Bradley (b. 1966, Folkestone; lives London) has often
focused upon people's complex relationships with plants as a way of
exploring ideas of connectivity and place. Bradley's works
typically combine photography (often presented in light-boxes),
text and sculptural elements. They are oblique cultural constructs
where the emotional meets the formal, both containing and
revealing the individual and collective human spirit.
The trip to the Galápagos in November 2008 was profoundly moving for Bradley. She has said that she found its transparency beguiling: 'Galápagos has a way of paring intentions… it affords no shade, literally or metaphorically.' In Santa Cruz, she worked closely with the Botany Department of the Charles Darwin Research Station, following the work of their Native Gardening Project, which aims to encourage the growing of native plant species - such as Scalesia and Opuntia - instead of more spectacular imports like Bougainvillea spectabilis and golden trumpet. She accompanied a team visiting schools, local municipal gardens and private homes, both providing and helping to cultivate native plants. Bradley was fascinated by the paradox of horticulture being mobilised to help save nature, and reflected upon the fluid boundaries between gardening and nature.
Bradley photographed her observations using a 5x4 field camera, equipment which, in itself, slows down the act of looking. Her resulting portraits of gardens and gardening show plants being integrated modestly into the landscape by hand. They also indicate the subtle human relations brought about through this shared endeavour - an activity more often seen as a form of solitary creative expression.