Anne-Mie Melis+
Nurturing, prototype #4 (Coventry Biennial)

For the Coventry Biennial, Anne-Mie Melis installed two Nurturing units inside a building, in the disused server room at The Row (previous an NHS rehabilitation clinic). Sparse light is entering the small room. The Nurturing units are installed in the opened up cable trays below the computer server racks. The natural growth is in stark contrast with routers, switches and network cabling. The defunct technology offers up brief spurts of high intensity light, that enable the plants to grow (or not?).
Red Clover, Broadleaf Plantain, Dandelion and grasses are some of the specimens that are first covered and then lighted up by one of the units. They are growing on welsh turf brought in from Pontypridd Wales, where Melis is living. The other unit is nurturing soil and dried plants brought in from Warwickshire, home to the biennial and from Belgium where the artist visited family over the summer. Both units are honouring the theme of the biennial by twinning soil from Wales, England and Belgium.
The installation itself creates 'an incongruous artificial environment'. The work seeks to 'experiment with the idea of tending to growing plants by first sheltering it from direct light and then providing it, at the discretion of the viewer, with artificial light for growth.' This active participation on the part of the viewer (the light is switched on by a movement sensor when the visitor enters the space) illustrates the notion that our environment is by no means immune to our actions and that our influence on the world around us, however slight or localised, has global ramifications beyond borders. The work reflects on both these environmental issues and how our growing reliance on technology takes away from our engagement with the natural world.

Anne-Mie Melis