Few things have shaped me more than a mechanic exhibition housed in the visitor centre of Cornwall’s world famous Eden Project. Shaped me, in a negative way.
Back in 2000, when the biomes for The Eden Project were still under construction, the visitor centre was opened up to the public. I was eight years old. “This will be educational,” my parents thought, “Alice will get to see this amazing thing being built and learn a bit about the nice plants in the visitor centre.”
Traumatised I was. Traumatised.
Plant Takeaway, an exhibition also referred to as “The Dead Cat” (which personally I think says it all) is, according to the attraction’s website, “[an] automated puppet show that explores our total dependence on plants. Visitors watch as absolutely everything made of plants in Alan and Enid’s kitchen is taken away.”
It sounds all harmless enough, sure, but let me put to you this; Plant Takeaway features scary mannequins (and you know how I feel about those), nudity and what I have always assumed to be a “Peeping Tom”. It is a reminder of the importance of plants (big tick) and how their removal will result in the painfully slow erosion of everything you hold dear (uh-oh) until ultimately you die from starvation or a lack of oxygen, which ever comes first.
“…Daddy, am I going to die?”
I can see Mumma B rolling her eyes at me now, “she’s 30 and still going on about that silly mechanical exhibit at The Eden Project” but you know what, Mum, yes, I am still going to harp on about it. There was an eight year old me, eyeball to eyeball with a naked collapsed man. To top it all off the cat dies. That’s it, THE END.
I spent the rest of the day crying. When we got back to the holiday cottage we were staying at I was in a state best comparable to that time Hermione got herself petrified in Chamber of Secrets. I remember these things because I was haunted.
I think I had a mild form of PTSD, Plant Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Years later we returned to The Eden Project, where as a teenager I was quickly rushed through the visitor centre. We’d all hoped Plant Takeaway would have been retired and thrown into a skip somewhere but nope, still there.
I was going for third time lucky when I visited last year. On seeing its ugly, clunky presence I decided to face my fears and watch it through to the bitter end.
I gave up halfway through.
In my defence I really did try, and in my equal defence this exhibition is a pile of trauma. Other people have recorded and uploaded the whole thing onto YouTube…or at least I assume so (I’m not going to check; go look yourself and on your own mental health be it).
The other 98% of The Eden Project is absolutely lovely and well worth a visit, but this? Nah. I have two questions to put to the management of this attraction 1) who in their right mind signed off the development of the Plant Takeaway exhibition and 2) who is continuing to let it stay?!
Uh-oh, I think I might have triggered myself again (passive-association from the memories). I’m off to get some ice cream.