Gabriella Hirst, How To Make a Bomb, 2015 - ongoing

Rosa Atom Bomb. Courtesy of the artist

Rosa Atom Bomb. Courtesy of the artist

How To Make A Bomb is a durational gardening project by artist Gabriella Hirst centred on the propagation and redistribution of a nearly-extinct species of garden rose which was created and registered under the name ‘Rosa Atom Bomb’ in 1953. The project charts the various attempts by Hirst to produce new specimens of the Atom Bomb rose through grafting and cuttings. Propagated plants are distributed throughout gardens in the UK parallel to the resurgence of cold-war-era narratives and fear mongering in the media and political rhetoric.

The Atom Bomb rose is the protagonist of a larger research project by Hirst, unpacking various links and associations embodied by this species and the processes of manipulation and care which are wrapped up in its dwindling existence. The Rose is a vessel to explore ideas of historical global power structures enacted through gardening, a means to approach the ungraspable time scales of Nuclear materials, and the coexistence of tenderness and violence within relationships between humans and plants.

From August 2019, the How To Make a Bomb project is hosted by The Old Waterworks (TOW) where the Roses will will be propagated. TOW is poignantly in close proximity to Foulness Island, a key Nuclear Weaponry development site, where test weapons bound for Maralinga and the Monte Bello Islands were developed in the 1950s. So far Hirst has grafted 30 scions from the Atom Bomb rose on to dog rose stock.

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