ART SCIENCE dialogue | Elspeth Diederix, Jolanda Maas and Bep Schrammeijer, moderator: Iris Burgers

March 7, 2024 | 4 - 6 PM

In collaboration with the Amsterdam Sustainability Institute and the Environmental Humanities Center Amsterdam, the VU ART SCIENCE gallery has invited scientists to take part in a moderated dialogue with the artists exhibited in Life of Plants. The ART SCIENCE dialogues explore the multifaceted relationship between humans and plants. The talks will investigate various dimensions of the plant world such as their therapeutic aspects, their role in shaping landscapes and identities, the impact of categorization and colonial exploitation, and the intersection of technology with the botanical world. As a whole, the dialogues investigate how we can create a more sustainable future, by gaining a deeper understanding of both our local environment and the life of plants.

In the third ART SCIENCE dialogue in the series, Elspeth Diederix, Bep Schrammeijer and Jolanda Maas will explore the importance of plant effect on humans.

Plants are a part of our everyday life, from purifying the air we breathe to being the earth’s living reservoir of energy. Beyond their aesthetic allure, plants possess profound healing powers, subtly influencing and enhancing our lives. The result of a commission by Amsterdam UMC, Elspeth Diedrix’s project Flowerfields is formed by a series of photographs. The project not only explores the medicinal aspects of plants that have contributed to modern medicine, but also emphasizes how their beauty can offer solace.

Considering the effects on our wellbeing and increasing concerns on our health systems,  how can the value of nature be incorporated in policy and decision-making?

The dialogue will be moderated by dr. Iris Burgers.

The event takes place in the VU ART SCIENCE gallery. Registration is not necessary, but appreciated. Sign up here


The art of Elspeth Diederix reveals the endless richness of the world, celebrating the beauty in nature and everyday objects. Born in Kenya and raised in Colombia, Diederix’s work is deeply influenced by her geologist father and a lifelong fascination with nature and landscapes. Her recent focus on her immediate surroundings includes The Miracle Garden, a unique flower garden in the Erasmuspark in Amsterdam neighbourhood Bos en Lommer, initiated and designed by Elspeth. It is an extensive art project showcasing a more organic and tactile dimension in her work, continuing her quest to reveal the sublime in the world around us.

Dr. Jolanda Maas, a behavioural scientist, serves as a senior researcher at the Clinical Psychology section of VU Amsterdam. Since 2005, she has been dedicated to studying the therapeutic impact of nature on diverse demographics, including children, students, patients, caregivers, informal caregivers, and the chronically ill.

Dr. Bep Schrammeijer is an Assistant Professor at the Athena Institute. Her PhD research focused on measuring functional quality of urban green space in such a way that subjective values can be included. Currently, she is conducting trans-disciplinary research into human-nature interactions and how we can monitor and inform the transformation to a socially-ecologically sustainable future. She is also interested in integrating local knowledge and socioecological traits to better understand land use transitions.

Dr. Iris Burgers is an architectural historian and works as an assistant professor at VU Amsterdam. She is specialised in architectural history and theory of the 20th century.
Her research centers on examining how the imaginations associated with our living environment impact both the conceptualization, design and use of this environment.