The Historic Dockyard Chatham, in partnership with Turner Contemporary, Margate, has co-commissioned an installation by the artist Jyll Bradley as part of the Battle of Medway commemorations. The work celebrates the long history of Anglo – Dutch cooperation in the development of horticulture that started at the end of the 17th century. John Evelyn, along with being a diarist, was an avid horticulturist and his treatise in 1665 Sylvae, argued for the reforestation of England – primarily to support the construction of new warships. He recognised the potential for the importation and cultivation of new plant species from abroad. The Dutch also recognised this and had developed a way of creating an environment to grow species from hot environments – the birth of the glasshouse / orangery.
The work that Jyll has created references this history with a contemporary edge. The driving force of the piece is to celebrate Anglo – Dutch cultural and knowledge exchange and look at what occurred and could happen after conflicts came to end.
Using old timber repurposed from one of our former naval buildings with ‘edge-lit’ Plexiglas; orange to symbolise The Netherlands and green for Kent, the ‘Garden of England’, Dutch/Light (for Agneta Block) is a perfect marriage of art and history to reflect upon the cultural exchange between the UK and The Netherlands amongst this commemoration of the Battle of Medway.
The installation has been funded as part of the Culture Kent programme – a cross arts and tourism project which aims to promote Kent as a national and international cultural destination. The piece can be viewed outside No.1 Smithery and is all included as part of The Historic Dockyard annual ticket.