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Jyll Bradley Dutch/Light (for Agneta Block) The Historic Dockyard Chatham, 8 June–6 August 2017 Turner Contemporary, 12 August–5 November 2017

Cover image: Sections through hothouses comparing the front glass at various angles, J C Loudon, An Encyclopaedia of Gardening, 1822, copyright RHS Lindley Library Above: Working drawings, Ben Godber, (2017)


Dutch/Light (for Agneta Block) is a new artwork by Jyll Bradley, commissioned by Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust and Turner Contemporary in collaboration with Culture Kent, in response to the infamous 1667 Dutch Raid on the River Medway which brought an end to the second Anglo-Dutch war (1665–1667). The work draws inspiration from the cultural exchange between the UK and The Netherlands based on growing plants that flourished in peacetime following the Raid. Artist Jyll Bradley is fascinated by early glasshouse technology from which the term ‘Dutch Light’ is derived. The simple, ingenious idea of leaning glass frames against a south-facing wall to maximise light and heat for plants developed in The Netherlands and formed part of a horticultural revolution that crossed the North Sea. Bradley’s work is named after a key figure of Dutch horticulture – Agneta Block (1629–1704), an art patron and skilled plantswoman who was the first European to grow and fruit a pineapple from seed. Dutch/Light (for Agneta Block) marries old timber repurposed from one of Chatham Dockyard’s former naval buildings with contemporary ‘edge-lit’ Plexiglas: orange to symbolise The Netherlands; green for Kent, the ‘Garden of England’. The minimal form of the work reduces the familiar horticultural glasshouse to its essential elements of leaning uprights and angled panes. The work is conceived as a pavilion, a social space to walk through and sit within. Like a greenhouse, the structure is activated by light, casting geometric colour patterns throughout the day as the sun moves across the sky. For Bradley, who spent many hours in her father’s greenhouse as a child growing up in Kent, they are places that signify the human potential to move towards light and growth. As part of her project, Jyll Bradley has invited artist and poet Fabian Peake to write a poem that further reflects on the events of the Dutch Raid. In his work, imagery and historical facts collide unpredictably in the form of statements linking figures and events from the past to the present. Sarah Martin Head of Exhibitions, Turner Contemporary

People in glasshouses

Like many young men of his generation my father, Jack Bradley, experienced conflict first hand, serving in World War II. Afterwards, he trained in forestry and as a surveyor for Kent County Council. By sheer coincidence, his last professional job was surveying Chatham Dockyard at the time of its closure. It gave him no joy to see the place cast adrift into an uncertain future. My father always told me that he had wanted to be an architect and after the war had dreamt of building a brand new house, with nothing of the bloodied, sorrowful, past. He didn’t fulfil his dream, but perhaps subliminally, created another utopia – a beautiful garden. At the very top was his small, hallowed greenhouse. Growing up I came to think of this seemingly fragile structure of wood and glass as a kind of light ship transporting us in time and space. The simple leaning roof made up of alternating panes channelled the sun so efficiently that other-worldly fruits thrived within. The greenhouse was a place of companionship. My father and I used to sit there reading in warm, luminous silence, pausing only to examine his prized grapevine which, gnarled and lifeless in February, would spin its green magic every year, casting a spell over the roof until by autumn it hung with opaque fruit. The greenhouse became a place of shared reflection and creative renewal, as though the long summer light polished a mirror within. Peace begets gardens. Early glasshouses, such as those co-developed by the Dutch and English, were palaces of perpetual spring, a preserve of the wealthy. Now there can scarcely be a British garden or allotment without a small greenhouse or eponymous ‘Dutch Light’. I think the idea of seeking solace in a transparent place of growth, light and warmth has become part of our shared Northern European emotional psyche. It speaks of a desire both to reflect and to connect. Jyll Bradley, May 2017

Above: Greenhouse at dusk, Jyll Bradley, (1984), watercolour Overleaf: Repurposed timber and chalk line, Chatham Dockyard, Jyll Bradley, (2017)

block he watched while now became then and then became now [sheerness] a thousand tongues gawked at the sails from a corner of kent

[admiral’s fid and fid]

gunter rigs told every woman that godwits had probed the medway mud [dukeofalbemarle] corrugated time licks the anchored dutch like a lollipop

[clew garnet block]

there was no phantom ship here; the cutwater this time was real [thebattleofcapestvincent] a surprise dreamt up by de witt – unseen, a turnstone flipped a pebble [peterpettscapegoat] it was not clear who he was, this naked man, thinking in snatches

[belaying pin rack and pin]

he walked in the marshland counting birds, pulling ships from his brain [vanderdecken] small saplings sprouted from his shoulders as the chain was breached [rivermouthriver] later, the brothers were lynched and half-eaten by the mob [jandebaen] the corpses felt a painter’s brush on their upside-down ribs [greenhouseinlabour] they leant their thoughts against a distant curtain wall [michielderuyter] the pineapple told agneta of its paraguayan cradle. her green fingers listened

[parrel truck and ribs]

it is so hot under this leaning glass, a copse of mizzen masts could grow [sirrobertseppings] the mist will see a voice in the trees and dust on the idea

[standing rigging]

quick, powder monkey! bring the magazine, the gun-crew is waiting Fabian Peake, 2017

Jyll Bradley (born Folkestone, 1966) is interested in the structures we build to capture light for plant growth. Her installations, lightbox works and drawings often use light as an element and frequently respond to the specific history of a site. Green/Light (For M.R.), commissioned for the 2014 Folkestone Triennial, was a light installation based upon traditional hop garden design, while the permanent lightbox work Le Jardin hospitalier (2015), created for Hôpital Roger Salengro, in Lille, France, draws on the city’s history of botanical medicine. In her work Bradley often pairs unlikely materials such as aged wood with modern Plexiglas inviting reflection upon dualities of time and self. Ben Godber trained both as an architect and as an engineer. After many years in practice he returned to teach at the Architectural Association, Bartlett and Kent schools of architecture. He previously collaborated with Jyll Bradley on her work for the Folkestone Triennial 2014 and is increasingly interested in the role of builder, fabricator, and maker. Fabian Peake is an artist and writer. His paintings have been exhibited widely in the UK, the USA and Mexico and his poetry has been published in numerous journals and magazines. He frequently gives readings at festivals and literary events, most recently at the Zocalo Literary Festival in Mexico. Credits Dutch/Light (for Agneta Block) is engineered and fabricated by Ben Godber Booklet design by Charlotte Hoyes Acknowledgements Jyll Bradley would like to thank: Ben Godber; Fabian Peake; Sarah Dance, Culture Kent; Victoria Pomery, Director, Turner Contemporary; Sarah Martin, Head of Exhibitions, Turner Contemporary; Alex Patterson, Collections Galleries and Visitor Experience Manager, Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust; Andy Shedden, Gallery Technical Manager, Turner Contemporary; Richard Cramp; Paul Good; Nigel Howard; Ian Jones; Tracy Mcllheron; Rob Tims; Vikkie Mulford; Jimmy Zepp and all at Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust; Dr Cedar; Charlotte Hoyes; Mark Darbyshire; Royal Horticultural Society Lindley Library, London.

Dutch/Light (for Agneta Block) is commissioned by Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust and Turner Contemporary in collaboration with Culture Kent to mark the 350th anniversary of the Dutch Raid on the River Medway.

Jyll Bradley, Dutch/Light (for Agneta Block)  
Jyll Bradley, Dutch/Light (for Agneta Block)