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ROQ Oxford Site Wide Project Pollinator

Pollinator is a serial work, created by Simon Periton for the University of Oxford’s Radcliffe Observatory Quarter (ROQ). The commission forms an important part of the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter Public Art Programme, which aims to embed art in the public realm and architecture of the Quarter, for the benefit of all.


The Alchemical Tree forms the centrepiece of the site-wide serial work Pollinator, a concept which grew out of Periton’s extensive research and alludes to the fertilisation of plants through other life forms. Pollinator also comprises smaller satellite elements, Connectors (sculptures of the tree’s roots, wrapped around bicycle stands) and Spore (a golden leaf flag mounted on the flagpole on top of the Radcliffe Humanities building). These satellite works complement the central sculpture and have been strategically placed across the site in relation to The Alchemical Tree, visually and conceptually. Together, the works notate and encourage navigation of the ROQ site, whilst alluding to the classical educational model that promotes cross-pollination and interaction between different disciplines.


The Alchemical Tree was inspired by historical images of such trees, symbolising growth, transformation, interdisciplinary collaboration and a quest for knowledge. Periton’s The Alchemical Tree – cast from an ash tree in Norfolk – features a golden crown hooked around the trunk, below a series of scrolled banners amongst the tree’s branches and inscribed with texts suggested by departments based within the ROQ. The crown references an illustration from Salomon Trismosin’s manuscript Splendor Solis (a famous treatise on alchemy from the 16th century), and represents the successful attainment of a higher state, a realisation of perfection. 



Simon Periton

Title of work



University of Oxford


ROQ, University of Oxford



Image credit

The Alchemical Tree by Simon Periton 2015 ROQ University of Oxford Image by Edmund Block