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Invasive Ivy: Artist Residency at the Royal Liverpool Hospital

Written by Bluecoat Display Centre | Posted on: November 2, 2012

Blog post by Artist Julie Dodd

I spent one month as artist in residence & workshop leader at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital during September and October engaging the patients in an environmentally aware project in preparation of a community installation that now hangs in the hospital’s Roald Dahl Haemostasis & Thrombosis Centre.

During the residency I held four ‘drop in’ workshops allowing the patients to join in while they waited to be seen but without them having to complete the workshop if they got called for their appointment. This meant for an unusual set of workshops where many patients picked up where another had left off and of course they didn’t have a finished product to take away with them but instead have an installation to view ion their visits.

For each session I handed out empty cleaned HDPE milk containers and scissors and with an example and a little guidance they occupied their time creating trailing ivy. Unlike many plastics HDPE is quite versatile and easy to manipulate and was able to take on several forms without the use of glue. It mimicked the shape of an ivy vine well and once twisted together it was able to hang and trails.

My aim was not only to produce a substantial and meaningful installation with the public but to introduce them to recycled materials, teach them a technique which they could reuse and adapt for different themes and settings, encourage them to experiment and make their time in the waiting room a little less stressful.

This has been a challenging but very rewarding project in both seeing what the patients got out of it and in the finished product.

Invasive Ivy Statement 2012, Recycled HDPE plastic milk containers

English Ivy (Hedera helix) is a species of native ivy which is a versatile plant, being able to cover significant ground and able to climb as well. It grows well in the shade and is ideal for covering barren areas under trees, it crowds out weeds, helps with ground erosion, climbs and cascades walls.  And with its evergreen foliage it’s a great ornamental plant which provides rich nectar for insects and fruit for birds.

But it is considered an invasive weed in parts of Australia and the United States. Due to human introduction as an ornamental plant it has widely spread, invading forests, salt marshes, woodlands and fields. Growing at ground level as well as reaching up into the forest canopy, it suppresses native vegetation engulfing everything and preventing light reaching the other plant life.

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