Concoct a Medicament for your Predicament at Horizon Festival
Georgia Beard chats with interdisciplinary artist Cat Jones and her inspiration behind Medicament For Your Predicament, an experimental pharmacy of political medicines at Horizon Festival.
Tell us about yourself as an artist.
I make immersive experiences and participatory projects that often cross art with science. I originally studied performance and trained as an actor, so there is usually a live element to the work that I make, and I’m particularly interested in creating projects that audiences contribute to making.
Tell us about your background in botany and science. How have you incorporated this knowledge into your exhibition?
I’ve done several projects that involved research in plant science in different ways – some have been about the science of plant communication, others with experimental perfumery. And some projects have involved the neuroscience of body illusions and their use in chronic pain research. Medicament For Your Predicament is a crossover project – it brings my work in plants and medicine together.
In layman’s terms, what is Medicament For Your Predicament?
I call it pharmaceutical play! It’s a project that allows people to express themselves in fun, creative ways through very basic chemistry! It’s a conversation starter too. Audiences themselves make it. You can participate in a workshop to contribute to the collection or you can come to the immersive exhibition – a subversive pharmacy!
What inspired your idea for this laboratory and pharmacy?
I was artist-in-residency in a plant science lab where I was researching essential oil extraction. The lab also researches plants for pharmaceutical purposes. I had some inspiring conversations with the scientists I met about the geo-politics of pharmacy, justice and equity and the concept came together with ideas that were already percolating.
What can audiences expect in the OPEN LAB?
OPEN LAB! is a workshop where participants get to formulate and take home their very own remedy for something that they care about. Each medicine also comes with a prescription described by the participant. So, there’s a mix of conversation, mixing and word play. It’s a messy kind of fun.
What can audiences expect at the OPEN PHARMACY?
OPEN PHARMACY! has a sense of discovery and humour, perhaps a moment of self-recognition, set in a party atmosphere! There’ll be testers of things that have been made, medicinal beverages maybe even some bespoke merchandise along with a great soundtrack.
In this experimental apothecary, what do plant-based tonics and salves offer for our predicaments that other solutions can’t?
I see plants as a kind of agent – they change the way we feel when we ingest them whether as a tea, a meal or a medicine. And they carry whole social histories themselves in the way or the reason they have been cultivated, hidden or forbidden. Just think of tulipmania and the financial bubble it caused in the seventeenth century or how coffee and tea have played a big part in colonisation.
Plants have a tangible affect on the body – and performing chemistry with them, you can feel a chemical change in your hands. Ultimately my work investigates processes of transformation. With this project, perhaps I’m exploring how something like tea can change a conversation, or medicine can change the way we think.
What do you want audiences to take away from this experience?
The utter delight of using something like medicine in an unusual way, the fun of seeing themselves in the collection, hopefully a little bit of insight or a new way of thinking about something important to them and mainly a fun experience.
One of the really lovely things about this project is that you get this impression of a particular community at a specific time – what they are thinking and what they care about right now.
IN | artist run initiative, 4 First Ave, Maroochydore QLD