The Impossible Garden

Exhibition: Solo: Luke Jerram, artist / sculptor.

Date: 26th September 2018

With: OCA students Paddy, Liz & Dorothy.

Venue: Bristol University Botanic Garden

Location: + we had a superbly cloudless, sunny day and the plants were at their best.  The space was just the right size to invite exploration.

+ The exhibits were well-documented in the guide brochure and we could walk around at will making our discoveries by chance or by following the map.

–  There were at least 2 classes of primary school children which, had the space been any smaller, would have got in the way but they didn’t.

Although we went to see the art, I was blown over by the plants, structures and plantings in the gardens, and, yes, the art was good and in unexpected places (unless you had studied the brochure which I hadn’t).

The strongest sculpture for me was the door which is flat against the wall:




The out of focus image in perspex.
Upon reflection: Our brains decode what we are looking at.
“Glitch”:  Jerram’s first experiment in creating a 3D glitches object. “Luke: Are objects and images containing digital glitches new forms of visual illusion? …BVI:We are used to glitches in streamed digital video – caused by poor channel reception or buffering problems.  Blocks or lines in a video appear in the wrong position.”
Pixel Girl:BVI:”There are limits to visioning and one is our ability to resolve fine detail.  When we view the girl from far away we are unable to see the individual blocks that form this image.It is only when we look closer that we see the individual blocks and that there is something unnatural about the sculpture.”
Shrinking device: Luke: I like the way objects of a different scale seem to shift our sense perspective … Does sitting on this bench make you look small?  DO you feel small when you sit here?”

What I took away with me about the work:

As a photography student, I am well aware of the importance of vision / sight so this exhibition was very important because it made me realise how much I take my vision for granted: I assume that everyone can see and perceive perspective, focus, scale, the way I do.

The quote in the brochure by William Blake is very pertinent here : “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is.  Infinite.  For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”

Jerram states that the quote by Blake reminds us that our senses are ‘just filters to the world.’  By this I understand that our perception is a conglomeration of many filters, not just physical but also cultural, psychological and emotional.   By presenting the work as he has, Jerram makes me acutely aware of the many different ways that people do not see as I do and that by interacting with the exhibits, you can still have fun.

What I took away with me about me and my work:

Part of this has been shared above but what I found really innovative was the way digital glitches are represented as sculpture.  The ‘Glitch’ bench invites you to examine and interact with the sculpture.  Indeed there was a sign saying ‘YES, you can sit on the bench.”  This encouragement to interact with the work is enlightening.  In my exhibition next July, the work I present will be interactive in a way that the work itself evolves as people touch it.  This is not a new concept at all but so many exhibitions have so many ‘do nots’  that people are forced to remain passive observers admiring the work from far.  Because viewers are historically excluded from the work in front of them, I am hoping that by touching it they will remember it better.

One of the first sets of images I made for my body of work were precisely glitches formed by buffering problems where the pixels or blocks of colour have been misaligned.  I thought that this ‘misrepresentation’ was in line with my point that because people are fed the same biased view about prisons in the mass media, which reinforces that historical Schadenfreude, they have been culturally forced into their shrinking cavern  and they will therefore see prisons in no other way.  This ‘glitchy’ view will, in my opinion, represent that incomplete picture of a perception of prison experience.


I do want people to touch my work in the exhibition.

I do want to see if I can include my ‘glitchy’ images in my exhibition.

I love the playfulness of this serious message.  Is this approach appropriate in a project on prisons?



Brochure produced by the University of Bristol: “Helping us see the world from a different perspective.”



2 thoughts on “The Impossible Garden

  1. So fascinating. I don’t see why you can’t use your ‘glitchy’ images. A ‘glitch’ in the system? Where is the glitch – institutions the legal system, prisoners?


    1. The glitch is in how we are allowed / not allowed to see the full picture and so it is in all those systems and institutions in whose interest resides the rationale to present a one-sided story.


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