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Plants & Decorative Practices Studio

"The tastes and preferences of a people are molded by their temperaments, their religious beliefs, and the flora and fauna of their land”
Nandalal Bose, Vision and Creation

Lead Researcher: Geetanjali Sachdev

About the Lab/Studio:

Plants & Decorative Practices is a studio at Srishti Manipal Institute that contributes to the development of pedagogies for plant study through the decorative arts.

Vision / Mission / Objectives

The diverse ways by which botanical knowledge is manifested and publicly encountered through cultural artefacts, events and discourses operate as forms of public pedagogy. These forms influence our perceptions of plants as we make sense of the our relationship with the botanical world, especially through ecological lenses within post-pandemic contexts. The possibility to change, to reframe and to imagine begins with an awareness of our perceptions. This awareness can then lead us – as pedagogues, teachers, artists, designers – to imbue the forms we create with the potential to enchant.

The Plants & Decorative Practices research studio centres itself on original and thought-provoking art and design projects and experiments that explore plants in and through the decorative arts. The studio offers a fertile territory for creative practitioners to intersect with the botanical world.

Research Areas

Plants, Pattern & Decoration

How should the study of plants be approached through decorative art practices? This inquiry focusses on ideas for a curriculum exploring plants and their representation in ornament and decoration, symbols and motifs, street art and design, and global and Indian craft and art traditions.

Three areas for the study of plants through Botanical Art, proposed at Leslie Johnson’s Walk the Green Carpet exhibition in March, 2015.

Plants in Protests and Protest Movements: Aesthetic Translations

Which pedagogic platforms raise critical discussions about the importance of plants to human life and the planet? The use of plants in protests by drawing attention to a range of historical, botanical, ethnobotanical and economic aspects of plant use, and can serve as one such platform. This inquiry focusses on the aesthetic translation of plants in protests and protest movements in India and globally, as a way by which to gain insights into wider contexts and social and political issues concerning plants across different cultures.

Srishti students’ work in a course on plants used in protests in January, 2020.

Ongoing Research Projects

The following research projects are structured for faculty collaborations and postgraduate student engagement.

Contours for a Curriculum: Plants and Decorative Practices

This project concerns curricular explorations with plants in pattern and decoration, to be presented as a provocation and public resource. The project builds upon 2 prior exhibitions, Walk the Green Carpet (2015) by Leslie Johnson and Pedagogy with the Botanical (2018) by Geetanjali Sachdev through which pedagogical propositions for plant study through art and design were mooted.

Poster ’Grasset’s 24’ by Sophia Lappe (2022), based on Eugene Grasset’s book, Plants and their Application to Ornament (1896).

Botanical Encounters with Raja Ravi Varma: Pedagogies for Intersection

Framed within the larger context of the Indian artist and painter Raja Ravi Varma, this project develops pedagogical experiences for children, students and adult learners, drawing from Varma’s use of plants.

Learning event based on flowers and plants in some of Varma’s iconic works at Gallry g, Bangalore December 2021

Learning event based on flowers and plants in some of Varma’s iconic works at Gallry g, Bangalore December 2021

Building a Pedagogical Resource: Plants in Protests and Protest Movements

An analysis of newspaper and other media reports on a range of protest across the globe reveal a range of material and symbolic uses of plants. They have been the direct and central subject of many recent protests linked to ecological concerns over the past decade. Plants have also been used in protests for their material properties as well as symbolic and metaphoric characteristics. This project focusses on the development of a pedagogical resource for the study of plants in protests and protest movements around the globe.

Poster ‘ Plants in Protest: A-Z’, G. Sachdev 2021


Project opportunities: Designing archives as a pedagogical resources; planning and designing material for pedagogic exhibitions; developing pedagogic kits

Residency opportunities: Preetnagar, Amritsar:

Internship opportunities: Pedagogy with the Botanical


For more information about this studio, please contact Geetanjali (Geetu) at