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To know all the plants (1850)


These images are from A Survey of the Flora of the Island of Singapore. The survey was an attempt to catalogue all of colonial Singapore’s plant life and was commissioned for the Great British Empire Exhibition of 1924. The images were first presented at the Malaya Pavilion at Wembley, London.

As part of this commission, Gerard Hockney, a British infantry officer based in Singapore was tasked to catalogue all native plant species on the island. For a period of one year, his team photographed every single plant they could identify in Singapore. Inspired by recent successes with rubber, the commission was also motivated by the hopes of discovering the next great botanical resource. They catalogued a total of 2432 species.

The team conducting the survey comprised of amateur naturalists, many of them wives and children of British officers. Only a small portion of the original 2,432 photographs remain.

Copyright 2017, Institute of Critical Zoologists