The Bethnal Green Nature Reserve has now returned to its traditional roots. Over the past two years the Phytology team have established an apothecary garden with thirty-two varieties of plants common to the streets of London and urban ecosystems across the country. Generally regarded as common weeds, each plant has been selected for its ongoing use in phytotherapy and traditional medicine.
East London’s rural past is now invisible throughout most of the borough and the Bethnal Green Nature Reserve site is a rare example of a place where it is still possible to have a sense of continued history. Over four months in 2015 artist Tal Brosh has produced an illustrated history of the BGNR in four incarnations: a medieval meadow and market garden, a Victorian church, a war-time bomb site and now an apothecary garden called Phytology. The work imagines these slices of the space’s life that has seen nurture, worship, violence and then nurture again. Each new piece of work is layered upon the previous image to create a single art work.