Gabriella Hirst

Two deep red roses against a green background.

(Photo credit: Gabriella Hirst/The Old Waterworks)

How to Make a Bomb

Radar is supporting the acquisition of a rare Rosa floribunda 'Atom Bomb' rose for the University's arts collection through How to Make a Bomb, an ongoing work by the Australian artist Gabriella Hirst and Southend's The Old Waterworks. Developed in 1953, the rose was so-named amidst the wave of Cold War 'atomic mania', which also saw the naming of the bikini after nuclear tests on Bikini Atoll in the Pacific. 

How to make a Bomb aims to bring the variety back into circulation to encourage a public care-taking for and scrutiny of the violent legacies and historical traumas of atomic armament via gardening and planting. From one of the few remaining ‘Atom Bomb’ rose specimens to be found globally (sourced from the Fineschi Rosarium rose archive in Northern Italy), Hirst has worked with The Old Waterworks’ co-director Warren Harper to propagate new generations of ‘Atom Bomb’ roses at The Old Waterworks. These are then distributed via workshops, exhibitions, guerrilla gardening and community led initiatives.

The rose is to be planted near International House on Loughborough's campus after interest in the project from colleagues across the University. It is cared for by LU Arts as part of the University’s arts collection, with collective care and scrutiny encouraged through conversations and events organised by Radar.

Further information on the project can be found in the publications available in International House, which can also be bought from The Old Waterworks.

How to Make a Bomb is curated by David Bell for Radar and LU Arts. With support from Malcolm Barnard, Rachael Grew, Marsha Meskimmon, Loughborough University Institute of Advanced Studies, Rachel Senior, Nick Slater and Simon Kemp.

Hydro-institutional Critique

Additionally, during autumn 2022, Hirst will be working with the University's Environmental Humanities Network to begin a new artistic enquiry into what she is calling 'Hydro-institutional Critique', an exploration into the connections between the aesthetic containment of bodies of water (in landscape paintings, for example) to the containment of those bodies of water through mass irrigation and hydrological engineering programs, primarily through colonial/capitalist processes of resource extraction.

Hydro-Institutional Critique is produced for Radar by Laura Purseglove. With support from Loughborough University Environmental Humanities Network.

Gabriella Hirst (she/her) is an artist. She was born and grew up on Cammeraygal land (Australia) and is currently living between Berlin and London. She works primarily with moving image, performance, and with the garden as a site of critique and care. Gabriella's practice and research explores capture and control. Her most recent projects consider possible relationships between plant taxonomies, landscape painting, art conservation and nuclear history. Gabriella the recipient of the 2020 ACMI/Ian Potter Moving Image Commission, is a previous Marten Bequest Scholar and a recipient of the John Crampton Fellowship. She is an associate lecturer in Media Studies with the RCA School of Architecture.

The Old Waterworks (TOW) is an artist-led charity in Southend-on-Sea that provides studios, facilities, and research and development opportunities for artists.

The Old Waterworks logo


Ecological Thinking

A programme of artist commissions and events exploring what creative and collaborative methodologies can bring to ecological study. Read more


How to Graft A Rose

Thu 14 July 2022

17:30pm - 19:30pm

To mark the planting of an ‘Atom Bomb Rose’ on join us to graft your own rose, which you will be free to take away after the event. Read more