A Matter of Thyme
Herbal knowledge is an essential part of cultural traditions in Poland. Revisiting Polish folk knowledge, A Matter of Thyme goes beyond the typical culinary and botanical qualities of herbs, to consider how plants used for female bodily autonomy came to be regarded weeds.
The core of the project is a ceramic steam distillation system, the Thyme machine, which has been developed in cooperation with the European Ceramic Center (EKWC).
The system facilitates an interactive demonstration of how freshly harvested herbs are converted and concentrated into essential oil and hydrolates. The herbs being distilled are selected based on their phytoprogestogens mirroring the progestogen compounds of a morning-after-pill. The distillation demonstration also hosts educational workshop that delve into women-owned knowledge on sexual and reproductive rights. These topics have historically been dealt with through the use of herbs but are falsely considered medieval and past practices.
In light of the current reproductive rights restrictions in Poland, A Matter of Tyhme is intended as a tool to facilitate the ongoing transmission of knowledge traditionally shared orally across generations. It intends to amplify stories of empowerment and community, while simultaneously cautioning against back-alley methods such as herbs.