The urbanisation of China and the influx of western value systems are explored through a series of large scale wall paintings by artist Hugo Dalton. The immediate subject of the work is a plant known as Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera). This plant was imported into Europe in 1839 and grown in gardens for its ornamental qualities, and is sometimes called ‘poor man’s orchid’ as it allowed ordinary people to grow flowers similar to the expensive fashion of orchids grown by the rich in their glasshouses. The plant escaped its domestic confines and has now spread over large parts of the countryside.
In 1834 the economic scholar Karl Polanyi announced the birth of industrial capitalism. As is well documented this system has over the last decades taken root in China spurring massive growth in its cities and changing the very fabric of the land. There are striking similarities in the rational for the introduction of the plant and the system. The attractions have also brought unintended consequences. The installation is sited within the China World Mall in Beijing which was the first shopping mall to open in China. The aim of the work is to give people a space to consider these complex relationships at a critical point within the development of their country.