What is a weed?
RHS Garden Wisley
24 September 2023 – 23 January 2024
A project with Simon Leach Design
Exhibition build by Standard8
Co-designed with RHS Young Curators
from St John the Baptist School Woking
and King’s College Guildford
With artists Ada Rose and Linden McMahon
Photography © RHS Wisley, David Sudlow Designers
The exhibition What is a weed? marked a new approach to creative collaboration for the RHS and was the culmination of a special Young Curator project, funded by the NLHF. We worked closely with two local secondary schools to design and deliver the exhibition. It was a true collaboration with the young curators producing the narrative framework, conceiving exhibits and writing texts. They were supported by two professional mentors and we guided them creatively to realise their ideas in a professional exhibition. The exhibition harnessed a range of media including artworks, objects and animation developed by the students, to explore subjects including human-plant relationships, beauty norms, compassion and the place of humans within the ecosystem. The students (from Year 9 and Year 12) brought extraordinary freshness of mind to the project.
Our design is an expression of their direction to create a friendly, imaginative and inspiring space. They wanted the audience to be able to both reflect on and feel motivated by the exhibits. Jute fabric in various shades of green and controlled spot lighting helped create a theatrical atmosphere, challenging a typical gallery experience. Graphic patterns combining illustrated leaf shapes and mini-beasts were used as printed backdrops to define different areas. Visitors were encouraged to pledge to act positively and were challenged to think differently.