University Honorary Fellow, Dr Claire Glasscoe is bringing an exhibition of photographs taken during a visit to the reclusive kingdom of Bhutan, to Ness Gardens.
Dr Glasscoe, who considered pursuing a career in photography prior to devoting her working life to medical research, travelled out to the Himalayan country in October last year.
Dr Glasscoe, who was based at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, said: “It is an amazing country, protected by its terrain. It resisted colonisation by Britain and invasion by neighbouring countries such as China, Nepal and India, largely because it is so difficult to get to. We had to fly at high altitude over the mountains to get there, and they only have two planes.
“They have a very distinctive culture. It’s said to be the most authentic Buddhist country in the world, and they want to keep it that way. Nobody is rich there although they are self-sufficient. There is a lot of fast-flowing water in Bhutan, which they harness to create energy and are now actually exporting to much larger countries nearby.”
Bhutan has only recently opened its doors to outsiders and, as a condition of their visas, tourists today must pay $250 per day to stay in the country. This covers the cost of accommodation, meals, transportation and a guide. A ban on television and the internet was only lifted in 1999, but now mobile phones are a common means of communication.
Dr Glasscoe, whose most recent research centred on children with cystic fibrosis, said: “The people are lovely, very direct, not apologetic and quite independent. They are very forward thinking and there is a strong emphasis on conservation and sustainable living, with a fair distribution of resources. They are a quiet, gentle people who know how they want their country to be, but they also encourage people going there. They were extraordinarily receptive to people from outside and happy to have their photograph taken, as long as the images captured were kept safe and respected as for many, particularly the older generation, these images represent their spirit.”
The exhibition runs at the University owned Ness Gardens, in South Wirral, from Wednesday May 16 to Wednesday May 23, with a special preview evening on the opening night.
Ness Gardens’ association with Bhutan dates back to the beginning of the twentieth century. Arthur Bulley, Ness Gardens’ founder, wrote to the Maharaja of Bhutan with the aim of obtaining permission to collect seeds there. His wish was granted, and in 1914 RE Cooper was sent to gather species not available anywhere else. Many of the very attractive and interesting primulas, rhododendrons and other plants collected can still be seen at Ness today.
Dr Glasscoe added: “I would have done all of this years ago if I was brave enough. I’ve always loved the mountains and the light was fantastic – it was photography heaven.”
For more, visit www.liv.ac.uk/nessgardens or call 0151 353 0123