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Studio 459
An artist residency exploring rural Portuguese healthcare and medicinal plants

The Studio 459 residency (2023) in collaboration with Metal Culture delved into local histories and stories related to Portuguese medicinal plants through fieldwork exploring found organic materials and documentation with craft and technology.

 

The residency extended from the 'Costal Tonic' project with Metal Southend which explored the historical relationship between healthcare and the coastal environment. The project discovered local archival material, engaged with environmental community groups, taught arts for social prescribing and mental health, alongside considering the legacy of human impacts upon the environment and future of the Thames estuary. The socially engaged project speculatively enquired regarding the health properties of the local seaside through DIY shed-lab analytics of coastal air, water samples and found materials, including Victorian era methodologies to explore ozone and other remedies sold to relieve chronic health conditions.

 

With Studio 459 in Portugal, the project explored the rural local landscape surrounding the studio and took trips to protected areas such as Serras de Aire e Candeeiros Natural Park. Recent ethnobotanical research in this location has uncovered spoken histories passed down from ancestors regarding memories of medicinal plants still used today which, even for some younger generations living in rural Portuguese areas, are important for those unable to access a pharmacy easily. Such a juxtaposition of contemporary and traditional practices is reflected in the outcomes of the project, which experimented with collecting and researching plant samples and documentation in natural environments with collations of written stories, drawings and photography. The residency utilised photogrammetry to model 3D visualisations of vegetation and their surroundings to explore how we navigate the interface of our bodies with these environments.  

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