In a City of Flowers

In a City of Flowers is a holographic and interactive video installation that invites viewers to gently place their hand within small wooden shelters to hold a butterfly in their palm. The work consists of 12 of these houses, each hosting a different British breed: some thriving, some vulnerable or extinct, some migrating.

These houses resemble those for birds or insects found in the garden whose aim is to offer shelter and care for local species. In the installation, these houses are removed from this context to question what home is for these creatures. Most of our British butterflies are in decline due to pollution, change in climate, and light pollution affecting their local habitat.

Each house in the installation hosts a holographic video of a butterfly reflected in the centre like a ghostly and ungraspable apparition, only visible through a narrow peep hole. Through a larger hole, people can place their hands within to cup the butterflies, a tangible yet absent image, giving them a sense of intimacy and fragility and reminding us of our care and responsibility for the natural world.

Some of the butterfly species presented are extinct in the UK, such as Large Copper, Black Veined White; some are still thriving such as the Cabbage Butterfly; some are migrating species that come and go with the fluctuations of the Earth’s climate such as the Painted Lady. Each one is closely linked to the plant species in their habitat which provide food and shelter with some only feeding on particular plants.This work is a reminder of how important it is that we keep our urban and rural spaces packed with local plants and wildflowers.

The work will tour to various public locations from Autumn 2023, and with it the aim to make people more aware of our beautiful and fragile wildlife.

Collaboratively produced with the Rule of Threes team. Consultations about butterflies took place with Widnes Greenhouse and Butterfly House and the national charity Butterfly Conservation.