1-2-1 with Wendy McMurdo // Pre-FMP module.

1st May 2019

I had my first 1-2-1 with my new supervisor Wendy McMurdo earlier this month, and wanted to log some of the key points from our discussions. Wendy and I have met a couple of times before, so she was familiar with my project work, and some of the ideas I am interested in exploring. Here are my notes from the session:

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Reflecting on the ‘Informing Contexts’ module.


© Gem Toes-Crichton. Tulip Diptych (Taken from my Informing Contexts work in progress).

Looking back…

In the first module (Positions and Practice) I used my camera to engage with my community. In the second module (Surfaces and Strategies), I navigated major surgery to remove my left kidney and created a more reflective body of work, centred on identity, healing and my garden as a cathartic space. In the third module (Sustainable Prospects), I worked more collaboratively, engaging with PhD students in the Dept of Plant Sciences (where I work), visually translating their research and stories.

(Link to my website and the work referenced above.)

Informing Contexts module

For this module, I decided to spend time studying and observing flowers, considering what causes me to gaze and what stimulates interest for me in terms of the subject matter.

My aim was to translate my own personal fascination for plants to whoever views the work. To harness the concept of mindful attentiveness, consider form and scale and appreciate the things that we cannot see with the naked eye.

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The Healing Power of Gardens // Oliver Sacks

“I cannot say exactly how nature exerts its calming and organizing effects on our brains, but I have seen in my patients the restorative and healing powers of nature and gardens, even for those who are deeply disabled neurologically. In many cases, gardens and nature are more powerful than any medication.”

“Clearly, nature calls to something very deep in us. Biophilia, the love of nature and living things, is an essential part of the human condition. Hortophilia, the desire to interact with, manage and tend nature, is also deeply instilled in us.”

“The effects of nature’s qualities on health are not only spiritual and emotional but physical and neurological. I have no doubt that they reflect deep changes in the brain’s physiology, and perhaps even its structure.”

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Published in Biology magazine, University of Oxford.


It was good to see my work was selected to be used on the cover and in an article in the latest Biology news magazine this week!

‘Biology News’ is an annual publication from the University of Oxford, and is written collaboratively by academics, researchers and students across the departments of Plant Sciences and Zoology.  (The photograph is of a plant called ‘Eryngium’, and it was taken at the Oxford Botanic Garden.)

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