Roots & Seeds XXI at Festa de la Ciència Barcelona
junio 11, 2021
Roots & Seeds XXI GARDEN – Ars Electronica Festival 2021 / Campus Cartographies: Linz
agosto 18, 2021


HERBART: Art and Science in confluence

15-16th July 2021
Barcelona, ES


HerbArt’s ongoing aim is to merge botany, art, science and humanities in one culture to face the future challenges of the biodiversity crisis from an integrative perspective. Within the framework of Roots & Seeds XXI, HerbArt organised a forum in collaboration with University of Barcelona and the Botanical Institute of Barcelona (IBB) featuring interdisciplinary talks from artists and scientists.

The event took place parallel to the Multidisciplinary Garden Cartography in Barcelona.


Up until today, there has existed an opposition and a wall that separates scientific knowledge and activities from the humanisties' ones, which unfortunately have kept them away from one another. This constitutes a problem in the progress of human society. HerbArt have been trying to break the wall between these two cultural areas for some time.

In 2019, HerbArt organised an international conference with scientists and artists, “Herbart: Art and science in confluence”, which is now embarking on its second edition within the framework of Roots & Seeds XXI.

Artists and scientists feel connected to the need to explore and investigate knowledge that allows them to understand the world that surrounds us. The scientific method, in relation with artistic expression, has a great creative potential to activate new communication channels and legitimise a more critical speech.

The functional collapse of our planet can be the reason to push arts and science to converge, creating a new model through mechanisms of construction and understanding of socio-natural relationships. HerbArt is interested in thinking about shifts in human interaction with nature, the increase or the abandonment of activities that condition the landscapes, the soils, and vegetable species; to observe and analyse what appears or can be new, the constant changes, from a local point of view but transferable to a global dimension.

The main themes of the HerbArt forum focused on:

  • Invasive plants, vulnerable plants or threatened in their natural habits.

  • The presence of invasive plants and their threat to native ones as an interesting debate that can move on to every living organism, including humans.

  • Changes in the systems of agricultural production. Human impact, changes in the use of the soil and ecologic agriculture. Agronomic changes that have improved a development and an economic potential in some territories.

  • Consciousness of loss and the notion of preservation: herbariums, seed banks, among others.

  • Reflecting on the limits and inconveniences of working with artists and scientists through an integrative research.

  • Transnational interdisciplinary collaboration.

  • Climate change and its impact on biodiversity.

  • Art as a way of transmission of scientific knowledge.

  • How to get over the distance between scientific and artistic cultures may also be applied and be useful in a context of sanitary and climatic crisis.


Language: Spanish and Catalan


THURSDAY 15th July

15:30 Reception by the Vice Chancellor of the University of Barcelona, Agustí Alcoberro.

15:45 Presentations:

  • Ethnobotany: a science of resilience, by Airi Gras

  • WE ARE OCEAN: a global hybrid program fathering art, sciences and education for ocean protection, by Anne-Marie Melster

  • Art and Nature Centre of Farrera (Pallars Sobirà-Pyrenees), by Lluís Llobet

  • Conservation, Taxonomy and Colonial Past at Kew Botanical Gardens, by Carlos Magdalena

  • The lesson of the trees, by José María Parreño

17:15 Coffee break

17:30-18:00 Q&A

FRIDAY 16th July

Reception and presentation of the invited speakers

15:45 Presentations:

  • A Postcolonial Investigation of Invasive Species, by Miguel Sbastida 

  • The potential of edible wild plants in the transformation of the agri-food model, by Marc Talavera 

  • La Font del Racó: Apel·les Mestres and the love of plants, art and life, by Mercè Compte 

  • The Plantocene. A world of alternative thought to the Anthropocene, by Paula Bruna 

  • Genomic resilience strategies in plants, by Daniel Vitales

17:15 Coffee break

17:30-18:00 Q&A

18:30 visit of the exhibition "HerbArt: botanical and artistic creation" at the cloister of the Institut d'Estudis Catalans
(Carrer del Carme, 47. 08001 Barcelona).


Anne-Marie Melster is a curator and art critic. She has made a name for herself in the field of art and climate change, through numerous interdisciplinary art projects with the Artport Making Waves project. Since 2006 he has been collaborating with internationally renowned artists, institutions and companies to raise awareness of the effects of climate change.

Lluís Llobet is the director of the Farrera’s Art and Nature Center, at the Pirineu. During the last 25 years of dedication, he managed the artistic residences for artists and investigators at the Farrera’s center and the different activities that develop. He is also the coordinator of the publication, The ecological crisis of the artistic language.

Carlos Magdalena worked for more than twenty years in Kew Gardens, the botanic garden of London, where his capacity and instinct to rescue endangered species made him win the nickname of “the plants messiah”. The asturian explains his vocation as an obsession to never let any species artificially keep alive species that on a practical level are considered extinct.

Airy Gras Mas holds a PhD in Biology from the University of Barcelona and a Master's Degree in Phytotherapy from the Institute of Continuing Education of the University of Barcelona. Specializing in ethnobotany in Catalan-speaking territories, she works at the “Institut Botànic de Barcelona” as a postdoctoral researcher in the EtnoBioFic research group. For her, it is important to preserve the traditional knowledge linked to plants and give it the value it deserves, they are our roots and this defines us as people and as a people to keep moving forward.

José Maria Parreño has been a professor at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the Complutense University of Madrid since 2008. He is a member of the group “Climatologías del Planeta y la Consciencia” (UCM), dedicated to analyse and promote artistic creations that increase awareness of responsibility in Climate Change. He is also the director of the Master's Degree in Artistic Historical Heritage Management, dedicated to the training of professionals in this field.

Miguel Sbastida is a visual artist. He works in sculptures, video installations and performances. In his works, he investigates the geopoetics of matter and environmental processes through ontological, scientific, ecocritical and posthumanist perspectives.

Paula Bruna is both an environmentalist and an artist. From this dual perspective, she uses artistic research as a form of knowledge where different disciplines hybridize. In recent years, she has been researching the shaping of the Anthropocene narrative from a non-human point of view, through a combination of science, fiction, and art.

Marc Talavera holds a PhD in Biology from the University of Barcelona. Specializing in ethnobotany, agroecology, forest ecology and scientific dissemination. President of the Eixarcolant Collective, the organizing body of the Gastronomic Day of the Forgotten Plants and which works on the recovery of edible wild species and traditional agricultural varieties as a tool to transform the agri-food model.

Mercè Compte has a degree in Fine Arts from the University of Barcelona. In 2003 she obtained a diploma in advanced studies from the Department of Sculpture at the University of Barcelona. As a researcher, she specialized in the study of historic gardens and, in particular, those of the early and mid-twentieth century, within the Noucentisme.

Daniel Vitales holds a PhD in Biology and a Degree in Environmental Sciences, is a postdoctoral researcher at the Botanical Institute of Barcelona. It belongs to the research groups "Biodiversity and plant biosystematics and plant diversity, genome evolution and ethnobotany.

Eva Figueras
Teresa Garnatje
Pep Herrera
Mar Redondo
Joan Vallès