Systems of belief concerning the medicinal, magical and spiritual uses of plant materials were well established in the lives of European forest, nomadic and ancient peoples. However, these beliefs were forcibly supplanted as pagan practices were displaced across Europe and other continents in the wake of Christianity and the rise of capitalism. The consequences of the suppression and attempted erasure of this plant-based belief system continue to be profound. Knowledge, often held by women, of the healing and spiritual effects of plants has been replaced by a significantly more limited emphasis on their predominantly aesthetic qualities. This separation informs our contemporary relationship to plants as being primarily one of commodification.
The images in i am an old phenomenon are part of the re-assemblage of fragments of this old knowledge and, in their ontology, invoke the persecution of wise women, witches and wortcunners who kept this knowledge safe but whose understanding of plants and their connection with reproduction, in particular, represented a threat to the new order. All the plant sculptures photographed are constructed by the artist who has always been interested in the history of floral art and its expansive gendered resonances having worked with plants since childhood.