Wildflowers of London
Wildflowers come in different heights, colours and shapes. They grow in different habitats and flower in different seasons. Just like humans.
A constant attempt to eliminate weeds have left these plants united by their capacity to spring back in the most difficult of circumstances. Weeds and wildflowers are the essence of resilience. Humans, weeds or wildflowers?
In 2017, a terrible fire in London claimed 72 innocent lives. Many babies and young children from poor families perished. Hundreds of people became homeless.
In one of the richest areas of London, their home, a public housing tower, had been covered with cheap and flammable ‘American designer’ cladding to ‘blend in’ better. A symbol of poverty had been hidden from public view at the expense of the safety of the occupants living inside.
After the fire, the survivors began to march in silence every month. They showed grace, dignity and resilience. Their community grew. Their solidarity blossomed. They were noticed.
Inspired by their story, Mamakan decided to uncover the hidden beauty of the weeds of London. She wanted to discover if these unwanted plants could tell us something about our human condition.
She walked 25 km across the city, collecting over 50 species of weeds, to make them into works of art. She found the proud beauty of a Shaggy Soldier (Galinsoga quadriradiata) next to a trash bin. She noticed the soft elegance of a weed inside an abandoned flower pot: Scarlet Pimpernel (Lysimachia arvensis). She discovered the amazing colours of a leaf of the Common Sow-Thistle (Sonchus oleraceus) next to a truck.
She stepped into a kind of London she had never noticed before.
An average person living in the UK can expect to live 80-83 years. For homeless people, life expectancy is 45 years for males and just 43 years for females. We all have stories. We think of some plants as precious. But, ‘precious’ is just a human classification. We think of other plants as weeds.
But, a ‘weed’ is just another human classification. Weeds are wildflowers. Wildflowers are precious. Are humans?