A stone’s throw from the site of last year’s Fantastic Encounter with the Matriarchal Ginkgo is ‘t Gasthuys, the city museum of Aalst, and an enclosed garden that was once the medicinal garden of this ancient hospital. Replanted as a medicinal garden a few years back by Bart Backaert, this garden is now to become a Nicholas Culpeper Garden of Virtues as part of my larger research project Nothing of Importance Occurred. In the garden, with the help of Bart Backaert and interns, we will be growing one hundred plants described in Culpeper’s Complete Herbal for ‘women’s ailments’. As the project Hortus+Herbarium, interns Lotte Van Ermengem and Kamil Siekierzyński, both working towards the master in contemporary arts at KU Leuven, will be drawing together literary, scientific and folklorish references from the 17th century and earlier to create for each plant a ‘portrait’ of its uses by women. To recuperate still-existant knowledge of medicinal plant use with common plants of the area graphic design student at LUCA Ghent, Ferre Van Ham, will be setting up a community radio project, Hortus+Herbarium+Radio, to invite listeners in Aalst and surrounds to share their knowledge with us.
The Stedelijk Museum – ‘t Gasthuys has generously made the garden and a large studio in the museum available for Hortus+Herbarium.