The Anna Whitcomb Conservatory : Emily Berger

Emily Berger is a renowned photographer who loves camping, swimming and working with natural light. Currently residing in her home town, Detroit, after spending five years in Brooklyn, the in demand artist shot one of her favourite places in her home town. Here she introduces us to the special place and reminisces about how it’s changed since her childhood. 

The Anna Whitcomb Conservatory is on the island of Belle Isle in the middle of the Detroit River. Overlooking the skyline of Detroit and the shore of Ontario, Canada, the island has had a rich history of being one of the constant gems in Detroit. As the city has seen it's ups and downs, BelleIsle has been a consistent.

If you have any sort of love for Detroit, no doubt you have some love for this island. When I was a kid and my parents took me to Belle Isle there were reindeer roaming freely around the island.  I have a very vivid memory from one of these trips of a reindeer in the woods. My childhood mind created this reindeer to be the size of a moose. Imagine my disappointment when I visited as a young adult and realised the mammoth reindeer in my head were actually very tiny. Nonetheless the idea of an island park with a conservatory, an aquarium and tiny reindeer wandering around in the middle of a river was, and still is, total magic to me.

The Conservatory is one of the oldest in the country. Some of the plants in those walls have been around for years and years and have seen more history in Detroit then I have at the age of 30.Walking into the rooms, each one of them different and hosting a different range of plant life,something happens to the light and your mood. It's warm, humid, smells like earth and you're surrounded by the richest, most natural colours in a variety of textures. It's simple and extravagant all at the same time and I fully believe visiting is one of the biggest privileges I have access to.

The article was first published in Volume Two of In Clover, in 2015. Words and photos by Emily Berger, you can see more of her work here.