: Azolla Cultivations at Hauser & Wirth Somerset [February, 2018]

The Azolla Cooking and Cultivation Project at Hauser & Wirth Somerset

[Azolla Cultivations at Hauser & Wirth Somerset. Photo: Hauser & Wirth Somerset]

I’m thrilled to announce that we have succeeded in getting the Azolla growing in the exhibition ‘The Land We Live In – The Land We Left Behind‘, which surveys “the contradictory nature of society’s relationship to the rural”.

In this context the water fern Azolla evokes both sadness and sentimentality over an upsetting and loss of old wildernesses and traditional agriculture, as well as hopes and dreams of a new man-made future.

Azolla was once used as an ornamental plant in British ponds (most notably by William Golding, author of Lord of the Flies) but is now banned from being sold in the UK by the GB Non-native Species Secretariat.

Azolla has been used for thousands of years as biofertiliser in rice paddies in Asia and has recently been proposed as a food stuff for Mars settlements. It is nutritious but potentially neurotoxic. Once an exotic species it is now due to global transports and climate change increasingly established in Europe.

For millions of years only found growing outdoors in unpolluted waters under the sun. Here it is grown in an old threshing barn converted into a gallery, in a synthetic nutrient solution produced by a local horticulture nutrient company with global distribution, under cost-effective but likely soon to be obsolete fluorescent grow lights as well as far red LED-lights, the latest innovation in plant lighting.

The Azolla Cooking and Cultivation Project at Hauser & Wirth Somerset

[Azolla Cultivations at Hauser & Wirth Somerset. Photo: Hauser & Wirth Somerset]