Signatus installation by Denise Swanson


Latin for 'signature' or defining mark, this installation was created as the outcome of a one year residency on the AA2A programme at the fine art print studios at the University of Central Lancashire.

Plants have always played a key role in human spirituality, their sublime beauty, entrancing scents, intoxicating fruits and seemingly magical healing properties suggesting connections with 'the other world' of Gods and spirits, demons and devils.

When a plant resembles an animal body or part, or is especially used by an animal for food or medicine, it is considered a specially powerful and important medicine.  These are 'spirit signatures' suggesting extra medicine, power, insight or spirit in the signature and in the plant.

The plants selected for this installation were:

  • Angelica
  • Burdock
  • Cow Parsley
  • Fig
  • Laurel
  • Fern
  • Rhubarb
  • Teasel

 The works consisted of carefully preserved leaves mounted on boards and used to produce a series of large prints onto washi paper using water-based inks and hand-pressed using a baren in the Japanese style. The prints were then suspended on bamboo poles creating an area within the gallery space in which the outside was inside.

The inner nature of plants can be discovered by their outer form or 'signature'. The appearance of a plant is a gateway to its spirit.

The Doctrine of Signatures - Paracelsus - 16thC alchemist