Caught by the River

Quarantine Herbarium

10th May 2020

Herb robert, by Caroline Pedlar

‘Quarantine Herbarium’ is a participatory botanical photography project led by William Arnold, Gem Toes-Crichton and John A. Blythe. 

The project seeks to alleviate symptoms of plant blindness* through a hyperlocal focus on flora while salving the monotony of lockdown through engagement with the accessible historical photo method of cyanotype sun-prints. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Cyanotype paper with instructions for use is posted to participants to make unique plant prints to be compiled into both an online and physical collection of specimens. The lockdown forces a focus on that which is close to home, so it is hoped that the Quarantine Herbarium will form an important record of an unusual interaction with an oft-overlooked part of the natural world.

Red-seeded Dandelion, by Alice Mahoney

Weeds are much encouraged but plant specimens must be collected from the participant’s gardens, or area immediately adjacent to their homes, as per government guidelines on travel and permitted exercise – no ‘plant collecting’ trips are allowed.

*Plant Blindness, a term coined by botanists James Wandersee and Elisabeth Schussler in 1998, refers to a cognitive bias in which we struggle to recognise and appreciate the value of diverse flora over zoological forms, especially prestige species.

Stinging nettle, by Wendy Barrett

Follow the project here. William Arnold’s Suburban Herbarium, published by Uniformbooks, is our Book of the Month for May. Buy a copy here.