Do you see words in colour? Synaesthesia garden hopes to raise awareness of neurological condition that affects 4 per cent of our population

A multisensory garden designed to represent the inside of a synaesthetes’ brain will be featured as part of the conceptual section of this year’s Hampton Court Flower Show.

THE horticultural project, which opens to the public at the end of next month, will be washed with different coloured lights in response to trigger words that are projected onto the inside of a dome.

“It’s such a multisensory thing that all I can really hope to do is give people a sense of synaesthesia, so they can use it as a springboard to do their own research,” said designer Sarah Wilson, who has been working with President of the UK Synaesthesia Association James Wannerton to create the garden.

The garden will be presented inside a white dome, designed to represent a synaesthetes’ brain. (Image: Sarah Wilson)
The garden will be presented inside a white dome, designed to represent a synaesthetes’ brain. (Image: Sarah Wilson)

“I’m hoping that somebody might come into the garden and go, ‘Hang on a minute, I’ve got that!’ which would be pretty incredible.”

Synaesthesia is a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sense leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sense. Those with most common form – grapheme-colour synaesthesia – associate words with specific colours.

Wilson, who does not have the condition herself, said she tried to use synaesthetes’ own experiences as much as possible in the design of the garden.

“The colours used in the garden are colours actually seen by some of the synaesthetes that James has spoken to,” she said. “I’m also going to try my best to actually play some music by people with synaesthesia, such as Lady Gaga, Billy Joel and John Bishop.”

The synaesthesia garden is part of the conceptual section of this year’s RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, which will run from 30 June until 5 July.

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