July 2011 Henslow’s Walk Sainsbury Laboratory Cambridge

Susanna Heron has recently completed an extensive stone relief for the lecture theatre to the new Sainsbury Laboratory for plant sciences in Cambridge Botanical Garden. This has inspired her to make a body of work which she is continuing to work with in her studio. The laboratory was designed by architects Stanton Williams and opened by HM The Queen 27th April 2011.
Susanna Heron’s stone frieze for the Sainsbury Laboratory exemplifies the responsive attitude she assumes in her work to her surroundings and the project at hand as well as reflecting her interest in botany.
Employing her favoured medium of drawings in shallow relief, Heron has created a backdrop to the Laboratory’s lecture theatre intricately carved into the yellow French limestone which forms part of the fabric of the building. Heron builds a poetic narrative that allows a work to be explored depending on the subjective engagement of the observer. Not unlike the tracery of a palimpsest each paired drawing appears as though connected by an invisible presence.
Immersing herself within the Laboratory’s work, Heron borrowed digital photographs of 5000 collations of native plant samples from the Cambridge Herbarium to be housed within the Laboratory. These highly sophisticated visual documents, made by John Stevens Henslow, botanist and mentor of Charles Darwin, explored variation in plant species as a prelude to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. On developing a fascination for the work of Henslow, Heron’s central concern to encourage looking as a means for thought reflects the influence of the botanist and his work upon the aims of the Laboratory.
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