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Communicating Conservation Through Photography

Published date
21 May 2019

In collaboration with Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, research by UAL’s Professor of Arts, Design and Science Rob Kesseler has been used to create publications that communicate Kew’s vital conservation work to a global audience.

The publications

The titles

  • Pollen: The Hidden Sexuality of Flowers (2004),
  • Seeds: Time Capsules of Life (2006) and
  • Fruit: Edible, Inedible, Incredible (2008),

produced by Kesseler in collaboration with Kew scientists Dr. Madeline Harley (Pollen) and Dr. Wolfgang Stuppy (Seeds and Fruit), explore the creative potential of microscopic plant material.

Using highly magnified coloured micrographs of fruits, seeds and pollen Kesseler’s intricate and absorbing images, alongside texts by Harley and Stuppy, reveal the structure, forms and functions of botanical subjects, once only accessible to the scientific community. This collaboration sought to open up the subject to all, and increase public understanding and support for the conservation work at Kew and the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, Kew (the largest ex-situ plant conservation project in the world).


The publications have been sold globally and translated into seven languages. Pollen and Fruit are currently in their third editions, and Seeds is in its second. In 2011 Seeds featured in the list of top 10 botany books in The Times.

Kesseler’s work has also been the subject of two exhibitions at Kew, and eight images from Seeds have been on permanent display at the Millennium Seed Bank since 2009. Bringing colour and imagination to science, these images have found their way into schools, with Primary Science recommending Kesseler’s work as a starting point for teachers in the classroom, and AD magazine (the magazine for National Society for Education in Art and Design) featuring an article by Kesseler, accompanied by a specially designed pull-out poster.

The publications have received much attention in the press, extending the reach of the vital work at Kew, to both a national and international audience.

Media coverage includes:

Time Magazine, who described Fruit as

‘a spectacular new book of botanical architecture.’

Related links

Visit Rob's research profile

Visit Professor Kesseler’s website to view more of his spell-binding images.

Watch Rob Kesseler talk about Lusciousness: flora, and the crafted image in a digital environment