Linda Gammell, “Pharmacopoeia: Field Notes / Medicinal Plants Growing in My Backyard, Lot 8, Site 4″



Title page


Pages 6/7


Pages 46/47


Page spread 34/35


Artist: Linda Gammell (Saint Paul, MN)

Title: Pharmacopoeia: Field Notes / Medicinal Plants Growing in My Backyard, Lot 8, Site 4 (2012)

Medium/technique(s): printed on an Epson 3880 from scanned medium format b/w negatives, design with InDesign program, text Adobe Caslon, some hand written text

Edition size: 10 with 2 artist’s proofs

Number of pages: 72

Dimensions, open: 9 1/2″ x 15″ x 1″

Dimensions, closed: 9 1/2″ x 7 5/8″ x 1″


This project was made possible in part by a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.


Artist Statement:

My work is about the natural world, its magnetic hold on us, how we imprint ourselves upon it. From my childhood my parents fostered these relationships. This project, an artist’s book titled Pharmacopoeia: Field Notes/Medicinal Plants Growing in My Backyard, Lot 8, Site 4 is a blend of my photographic work where the act of collecting, gathering, archiving, and classifying is often part of my practice, my love for research on subjects relating to the environment, agriculture, landscape, nature, gardens, and botany, and a personal poetic narratives, elliptically mixed with scientific facts that inform what we know about, in this case, common medicinal plants.

In Pharmacopoeia my “lab” is a typical urban lot with flowerbeds, borders, lawn, and weeds. The investigation begins by identifying and photographing some 55 medicinal plants growing here. Photographs are arranged throughout the book with accompanying poetic and informational text that trace family narrative, personal garden history, and landmarks in native and scientific knowledge of medicine and plants from earlier centuries through today’s global demand for naturally healing chemicals found in plants. Ultimately this artist’s book pays homage to the creative urge to understand the world through art (and science) and for the incredible biodiversity literally at our feet within steps from our homes. The quality of imagination, of extending beyond factual or literal descriptiveness of “the botanical specimen” is celebrated.

The visual look of the book is inspired by historical herbals and by the images created by naturalists, photographers and artists during the great age of natural history exploration of the 16th – 18th centuries to illustrate the natural wonders of the world. The artist also draws inspiration from the instrumental cyanotypes of plant specimens made in the mid-1800’s by British photographer Anna Atkins, and the photographic botanical albums of German photographer Karl Blossfeldt (1865-1932). Early research on the project was done during a Jerome Travel and Study Fellowship to examine rare books and art from the Spencer Collection of the New York Public Library, The Linnean Society of London, Kew Gardens, the British Museum, and the Chelsea Physic Garden in London. Additional research was done at the Andersen Horticulture Library of the University of Minnesota.

The book was produced in 2012, is 72 pages, and the size is 9 ½” x 7 5/8”. It is in an edition of 10, with two artist’s proofs. Other production information includes:
– Digitally printed on archival matte paper with archival inks on an Epson 3880 inkjet printer
– Hand bound, tipped-in cover photograph, black foil type on cloth cover
– Black and white photographs with hand-written identification of plant specimens
– Photographs scanned from black and white medium format negative film
– The text font is Adobe Caslon
– Designer: Barbara McIlrath
– Editor: Joland Mohr
– Botanist, Plant Identification: Bob Bergad
– Binder: Jana Pullman