Everyone on deck!

Gray, Ros. 2022. Everyone on deck! In: Edward Chell, ed. Transports of Delight. ISBN 9781739186104 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

Transports of Delight assembles art works that focus our attention on a sealed box of wood and glass, a carrier of living plants, a miniature biosphere, a device so humble in appearance that it has at times induced an incredulity that it should merit so much attention. Historians, however, recognise the environmental, geopolitical and aesthetic significance of the Wardian case. Luke Keogh argues that this single invention ‘changed the world’: it participated in a vast transfer by ship of plants, people, insects, soil, microbes and pathogens that terraformed vast tracks of the Earth, contributing to ecological disasters and climatic destabilisations, but also producing new pockets of biodiversity. In the decades between its invention in 1829 to its eventual replacement in the early twentieth century, the Wardian case increased exponentially the capacity of European colonial powers to transport much sought after plants and transplant them into new soils, where they were cultivated to produce raw materials and commodities that accelerated the expansion of empire and enabled the accumulation of vast profits in the colonial metropoles.

Item Type:

Book Section


Wardian Case, economic botany, Transports of Delight, contemporary art

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Art > Centre for Art and Ecology



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

30 May 2023 08:30

Last Modified:

20 Jun 2024 14:41



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