Radio Air Garden

Radio Air Garden

Magz Hall

I am growing and designing a radio air garden an idea I have had for several years. This will use plants which are known to absorb pollution and are also great pollinators, moving on from my recent project, Don’t Listen Up and my interest in transmitter copper coils. I’m promoting planting to improve air quality and also linking into the hundred-year long history of experimentation of using copper coils for growth.  

I have been researching how to make coil plant antennas to test out electro-culture methods using antennas and the best plants to absorb pollution in the radio air garden since September 2022 in earnest, when I was offered a residency at the Margate School to help me realise it, that residency was put on hold there due to their own funding issues, so I have carried on with the project here in Canterbury and hope to team up with a relevant commissioner in the near future.


I have been embracing art for the environment as a strand of my practice since 2015, at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, then looking into Ash Dieback in Kent, and, more recently, by making sustainable sound work Don’t Listen UP, which focuses on local air, sea and land pollution.

I am creating a radio air garden which uses plants not only propagated by air, but which are super absorbers of pollution. The work also draws on the basic technology of coil antennas used in electro culture. I have been looking at a range of styles developed since the turn of the last century. What drew me to them was that many are similar to simple radio antennas.

Another influence are the early loop coils of Georges Lakhovsky, 1929 which, it is claimed, can be used to make plants grow faster and larger. These are very easy to make with copper wire like the sort I have been using to make coils for transmitters. I see this as a way of doing something new with them in terms of creating living sonic expanded radio sculptures with an environmental purpose, which can also be part of a live performance.

I have drawn a list of plants to grow from the Phyto-Sensor toolkit, a simple resource developed at Goldsmiths for learning how to make air quality gardens in community settings, including using plants like Salvia officinalis that have been shown to take up heavy metals like zinc. This plant with hairy leaves is “not only good for clean air, but is also beneficial to pollinating organisms, thereby increasing biodiversity.”

I’ll be documenting not only how well the plants grow, but also hope to team up with a scientist to work out how much pollution they are absorbing and see there is scope to team up with a wide variety of specialists.

Radio Air Garden in an initial form will be the perfect spot for a radio jam and some experimental music performances.

I am exploring the antennas and plants’ sonic properties by wiring up these antennas as radio receivers, which is why they appealed to me. I am going to do some experiments and try making some open wave receivers, as devised by the Short Wave Collective, as It looks like it may be the most simple way to pick up transmissions from the coils. I also want to test other types of radio receivers, as this develops, and work out how best to demonstrate how pollution affects signals and how radio signals are being used by researchers to push pollution particles.

I know my large transmitter coils are also a fantastic improv tool, when miked up as well as my midi sprout, which turns plants bio data into music for the performance side of the garden.

In my initial research for the project, which started from watching a video on the subject from French researchers, I found quite an esoteric number of article and books dating from the early 19th Century to more recent times, on electro culture to draw on It has most recently been adopted by the new age community rather than industrial use which was its earlier pioneer’s hope. When looking at the subject more recently found that the Gardens Trust had put together a blog about much of the history available online by enthusiasts, which gives an excellent overview.

It will be interesting to see if there is any added growth to the plants using the techniques mentioned here. It’s also interesting to note how new media is keeping this technique alive, as people share experiments via maker and gardening communities. Since my initial interest, the number of posts on the topic is rising.

I can see quite a few everyday plant supports are designed as coils and towers which are not dissimilar to those adopted by electro culture, so from that perspective its use has not been completely lost in everyday gardening. However, its effectiveness remains to be resolved. I can see I will also enjoy developing an aesthetic approach to this.

It’s now March and I have started to grow the first plants in a greenhouse, half with the coils and half without and have a short film of this.

I have chosen to plant the following over the coming months.




Geranium cranebill

Shrubby veronica (hebe odora)

Coral bells ( heuchera)


Delavay Orsmanthus

Salvia Nemorosa

Woodland Sage

Snow berry

False spire

Lakhovsky coil 1929

These are the initial coils I will use, which are based on the Lakhovsky coil. I see this as an opportunity to make a range of versions at different scale as outdoor scultpture.

The photo above is from another early book on the subject from 1927, shows end results that  have clearly been doctored, which is an early example of prototype photoshop cut and paste and photo montage. An 11 foot cabbage seems an impossibility, which makes me somewhat dubious if the techniques will work, but I am open minded and keen to know more.

And if more biological ways can be used for growing that’s worth knowing about as well as looking into the history behind this movement and how those in it sought to use electricity, treating plants as living circuits and how this sits with modern day scientific understanding.

Looking back to a point in time when radio and electricity was just becoming accessible in homes.

Living in Kent, the garden of England, a visit to Thanet Earth is on the cards, as I want to learn more about modern growing, as well as look at commercial orchards, fruit farms and vineyards. I’d like to talk to expert growers, scientists and see there is a also scope for me to  record interviews for a future podcast and radio programme, which could be heard in the garden.

This first prototype garden could be brought to your gallery and a more portable version to next year’s Folkestone Triennale, Hampton Court Flower show: there are some interesting outreach possibilities, I am thinking arts spaces and heritage and community gardens. I am seeking wider arts opportunities and commissions for the project.

This antenna mast was used in the 19th century to fertilize gardens with atmospheric electricity designed by Brother Paulin, director of Beauvais School of Agriculture at the start of the last century.

I would like to make one as a centrepiece for the garden.


When the seeds are grown enough to be planted out I am going to start the radio air garden in the raised beds and also use recycled coat hangers to aid growth and see if that works as well and will be an easy way to try out the technique at home.

I am also investigating how I can make the copper coil loop antenna with recycled electrical wire.

I hope to make some more eye-catching sculptural antennas.


Prof, S, Lembrom, 1904 Electricity in Agriculture and Horticulture, The Electrician Series

The Electrician, Printing & Publishing CO, England.

Justin Christofleu, 1927, Electroculture, Publsihed by Alex Troucet and Sons Perth Australia.

Georges Lakhovsky, (1939)The Secret Of Life, Cosmic Rays and Vital Radiations.

New Age Science Journal, 1976, Magna Culture.

Christianto, Victor & Smarandache, Florentin. (2021). A Review on Electroculture, Magneticulture and Laser culture to Boost Plant Growth. Bulletin of Pure & Applied Sciences- Botany. 40B. 65-69. 10.5958/2320-3196.2021.00006.9.