Ilha de Ervas

Ilha de Ervas, 2020
04.11 2020 – 04.11.2021 at Estufa Friade Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal
Conservation agreement, painted wood sign, compost.

I was invited to make a work at an incredible botanical garden, the Estufa Fria in Lisbon. The place is such a wonder that not much can add to its magic and surely nothing can compete with its lushness. Thus, I decided not to add anything, or rather, almost nothing. When I visited the garden to find out what and where my project could be, I spotted a tiny island on the main pond of the warm greenhouse. It seemed the only place without a sown plant. Later, the keepers confirmed that it was transitioning, and that only spontaneous vegetation settled there. In no other area could we find the so-called weeds. After some investigation, it turned out that one species colonized the 2sqm island : Samolus valerandi, also called water cabbage.I then started discussions with the Estufa Fria and the municipality to preserve the island as a nature reserve, which led to me drafting a conservation agreement with the duration of one year. I made a painted sign depicting a map in a Burle Marx style inspiration with a QR code (also painted) which opened on to the contract signed by both parties, Lisbon’s Councillor for the Environment, and me. Also, as a kick-off to the project, I came with my home-made compost and fertilized the island soil before the opening. Alas, on the opening day already a second plant (stinging nettles) was growing on the island, taking over more than half of its surface.


Ilha de Ervas, 2020, Estufa Fria, Lisbon

Ilha de Ervas, 2020, detail

Ilha de Ervas, 2020, Estufa Fria, Lisbon

Ilha de Ervas, 2020, (detail)

Ilha de Ervas, 2020, conservation agreement

Ilha de Ervas, 2020, Estufa Fria, Lisbon