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Tillandsia SWARM - experimental living plant sculptures by Lloyd Godman based on the principle of super sustainability - © Lloyd Godman

An ecological art - science work utilizing Tillandsia plants which need no soil or watering system

The installation of AIR in the Barn Gallery at Montsalvat for the 2017 Nillumbik prize utilized the fire place on the end wall. The combined Tillandsia plant cells were fabricated to form the word AIR and suspended from the ceiling. The didactic panels that related each cell to a corresponding Tillandsia cell installed on a building in the wider urban environment, was placed on the black plinth. Each panel allowed the audience to access a web page that showed the plant cages in the urban environment. The components utilized the fire place as a key aspect of the space.

Click on each letter in the photograph to enlarge


Separated by geography and context, AIR is an expanding, ecological sculpture with a twin; titled SWARM.

SWARM consists of a diaspora of caged Tillandsias (air plants), scattered across a range of urban sites including Eureka Tower, CH2 and Essendon Airport. The sophisticated biology of air plants enables them to up-take all water and nutrients through special cells on the leaf, even absorbing toxic airborne heavy metal particulates. Further to this, they are one of few plants that can exchange CO2 for oxygen at night offering a valuable means to filter the air. Over time the plant leaves are tested to reveal comparative pollution levels within the urban environment.

AIR, is a gallery-based work. Tillandsias and their cages are combined to form the word AIR. However, here, each plant and cage corresponds to a plant and cage outside the gallery walls, and viewers are provided with a photograph, location, installation date and QR code / short URL that directs to further information on the particular site.


The original renders for AIR had the panels attached to each cell. However once the cells were combined there was a tension in the delicacy that was lost when the panels were in place.


AIR - with the mesh cage cells under construction




Alpha Space Air Plant Systems (ASAPS) PDF info