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The fox got you - the relationship between plants and medicine

13 July 2016

A contemporary photographic and science exhibition that explores the relationship between plants and medicine by celebrating six common plants, which are the origin of five major medicinal drugs, opens at the University of Bristol Botanic Garden on Friday 15 July.

The fox got you, an exhibition by photography artist Françoise Sergy runs from 15 July to 11 September 2016, 11am to 4pm, in the Bradley Room at The Holmes. Françoise started the project as a way of saying thank you to the plant goat’s rue, which indirectly keeps her alive as the drug metformin is part of her diabetic treatment.

Plants have existed for millions of years, far longer than humans. They have had time to adapt to their environment, to evolve and deal with threats through infinitely slow genetic changes. The molecules they offer people often act in mysterious ways and how some of them work, despite centuries of use, are still being discovered.

Nick Wray, Curator of the Botanic Garden, said:

“I am delighted we are able to host this exciting contemporary exhibition. Plants have been part of our medical world since man first walked the earth, firstly as food then through selection as dedicated medicines. This exhibition, which focusses on some of the well-known medicinal plants, will help highlight to visitors the origins of some of our important medicines, whilst the Botanic Garden grows many plants used in traditional medicine an area of scientific investigation which may have potential for the drugs of tomorrow.”

The exhibition brings together the plants, the drugs, the clinicians, the patients, the people making the drugs and the scientists researching how these diseases affect our body. The artist has worked with them all over a long period. Françoise has photographed, recorded and learned from them and different viewpoints have been allowed to influence one another.

The artist has been inspired by scientific images, moving freely between the worlds of plants and human biology, exploring the unfathomable complexity of living organisms. By revealing the powers behind some of the plants growing in the Botanic Garden, this exhibition offers a unique insight into the way humans are made and changed by the natural world.

The plants featured are:

  • Foxglove (Digitalis lanata and Digital Purpurea) and the drug digoxin for the treatment of heart arrhythmia
  • Goat’s rue (Galega officinalis) and the drug metformin for diabetes
  • Yew (Taxus baccata) and the cancer chemotherapy drugs paclitaxel and docetaxel
  • Autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale) and the drug colchicine for gout
  • Meadowsweet and willow (Filipendula ulmari and Salix alba ) and aspirin

The fox got you, a photography installation, interactive exhibits and wall mounted artwork, will open on Friday 15 July until Sunday 11 September 2016. The free exhibition, with entrance to the Garden, will take place in the Bradley Room at The Holmes (adjacent to the Devers Room where refreshments are served), University of Bristol Botanic Garden, Stoke Park Road, Stoke Bishop, Bristol BS9 1JG.

The fox got you - the relationship between plants and medicine
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