Amicus Botanicus

Lydia Holden

My training and working life have been in the sciences, mainly the biological sciences so I see myself as a scientist trying to be an artist.

Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis) by Lydia Holden

I spent most of my working life in cancer research. This has given me an interest in plants that have medicinal properties, in particular those that contain chemicals that have been modified to be active against cancers, for example Taxus baccata (Yew) and Podophyllum peltatum (May Apple)

I am also interested in plants that can tell us something about the deep past. For example, plant fossils have been found in the Arctic and Antarctic that are 55 million years old. They tell us that there were once huge circumpolar forests at both poles because the earth was much warmer. Examples are Katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) in the Arctic and the Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis) in the Antarctic.

Some of the Arctic fossils are of plants very familiar to us, for example walnut. Imagine cracking walnuts in the Arctic 55 million years ago!

I suppose that I’m interested in trying to bring the arts and sciences together. They have never been so far apart.

Cannabis sativa by Lydia Holden