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Frances Disley & Andrea Ku - Green Spaces

On Thursday 12 March Frances Disley opened her solo exhibition Pattern Buffer at Bluecoat, alongside Jonathan Baldock’s solo show Facecrime. Both exhibitions are temporarily closed, along with our building, but we still want our visitors to be able to enjoy the shows online, until you are able to visit again in person. Over the coming weeks we will release interviews with the artists, documentation of their shows and where possible more their events programme online. This week we take a look at the role of planting within Frances Disley’s show, at a time when many of us are turning to nature for relaxation and distraction. 


Liverpool based artist Frances Disley is interested in the things we do to feel better about ourselves, and for Pattern Buffer created a number of artworks as prompts for relaxation. These included a hand painted quilt, jigsaws printed with plants, a custom-made dominoes tables and planting in the gallery. Disley had recently been speaking with psychologists from the University of Salford finding out more about how different kinds of architectural spaces make us feel and the positive effect certain colours and plants have on our mood. This research influenced her decision to transform the window gallery and upstairs gallery from stark white spaces with grey concrete floors, to softly painted and carpeted environments.

The greening of the gallery included moss and bromeliads which are examples of different kinds of epiphyte, plants that happily live on other plants without causing harm to their host. Many of these plants were nurtured in her studio at Bluecoat and in a mini green house in her yard at home. They have since been found new homes.  

Find out more about Frances Disley on her website

Find out more about Pattern Buffer

An event planned for mid March and programmed with Frances Disley was Green Spaces, which invited Andrea Ku, gardener, bee keeper and managing director of collective B4 Biodiversity to demonstrate in a hands-on workshop the principles of permaculture works or companion planting. As the event had to be postponed, Andrea Ku has now written the following guide, including her own images (taken on 28/03/20) from her community plot up at Ford Lane Garden, L21 Liverpool.  

Coming up in the next couple of weeks Ku and Disley will share their experience and tips for planting in small spaces, while Disley will also release a series of art works including a playful audio work inspired by guided visualisations. We hope you find their insights both of interest and use at this time. 

Andrea Ku: Permaculture & Companion Planting:
Companion planting is an age old traditional method (traced back to the Roman times c. 2000bc) that simply helps plants next to each other to thrive and grow. By growing certain plants close together create a habitat for beneficial insects that feed on, or deter pests. Close planting can also crowd out weeds and some plants help keep the soil healthy. An example is planting strawberries next to onions. 

















Companion planting is an organic and natural pest control method that can be used instead of pesticides. Pesticides will wipe-out every living thing they touch with great damage to the environment and ecosystem. Companion planting lets the plants, insects, animals and birds do what comes natural, prey on pests or in some cases simply deter them, making it a natural insecticide.


















Due to their strong aroma, onions repel harmful insects including, mealy aphids, aphids, root aphids and white flies. Protecting your strawberries from these pests is imperative and growing onions in companion to strawberries will definitely help.



Bees find most of their water by scent rather than sight, so a water source with a smell will be more attractive. Water that smells like wet earth, moss, aquatic plants, worms or decomposition has a better chance of attracting a bee than tap water. Smelly or slimy water sources contain a wide range of nutrients which are rich in vitamins and micronutrients that can boost honey bee nutrition along with nutrients from pollen and nectar. Since the beehives have been on site at Ford Lane Community Garden, Liverpool there has been a significant yield increase in fruit and vegetables. Bees need pollen and nectar, plants need the bees to pollinate and we need fruit and therefore this symbiotic relationship is beneficial to all. 

Andrea Ku Managing DirectorB 4 Biodiversity /@beesandbooks

Follow Andrea Ku on Twitter - @b4biodiversity 



Pattern Buffer, 2019, installation images, Bluecoat, courtesy Frances Disley

Images of Allotment for Companion Planting courtesy Andrea Ku 

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