South Africa Landscape - a joint project between the British Museum and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Press release, 2010
This spring, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the British Museum are bringing a small corner of South Africa to the heart of London.
The South Africa Landscape, which opens on 29 April 2010 on the Museum’s west lawn and is supported by Barclays, will highlight the rich diversity of plant life in South Africa – a country that is home to three internationally renowned biodiversity hotspots. 2010 has been declared International Year of Biodiversity by the United Nations and the Landscape will also coincide with the spotlight on South Africa in the run up to the FIFA World Cup.
The South Africa Landscape will celebrate the two institutions’ shared vision to strengthen cultural understanding and support biodiversity conservation across the world. It is the third in a five-year partnership programme following on from the successful India Landscape, created in 2009, and China Landscape, created in 2008.
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The South Africa Landscape will have a radically different appearance from the two previous habitats; taking in the Western Cape’s famous fynbos, succulent Karoo vegetation and the coastal flora of the Eastern Cape. It will feature plants that are hardy from mid April to October, with a significant proportion in bloom throughout the duration of the Landscape. Plants featured will include African lily (Agapanthus), cape heath (Erica), daisies such as the bright blue kingfisher daisy (Felicia) and Star of the Veldt (Osteospermum), the South African geranium (Pelargonium), the Lesotho red hot poker (Kniphofia caulescens) with its bright orange rocket shaped flowers and the shocking pink fig marigold (Carpobrotus). The layout will be a walk-through landscape with a desert feel of tumbled rocks, scree and sand; interspersed with strangely shaped quiver trees (Aloe dichotoma), swathes of spectacular plant colour and an understorey of desert annual and perennial plants.
Reproductions of famous examples of Rock Art, depicting men and animals, from well-documented sites in South Africa, will be incised on to a number of rocks in the Landscape. These will connect the Landscape with a new case planned for the Museum’s African galleries which will explore ancient artistic traditions such as Rock Art in Africa. Examples of the quivers which the San people once made from the branches of the quiver tree are among the San artefacts on display in the Museum’s African galleries. Artefacts from other peoples of South Africa which relate to the Landscape will also be highlighted in the galleries.
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The Landscape will also highlight the significance of the biodiversity conservation work being undertaken in South Africa by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, particularly through Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank. Although South Africa covers just 2% of the world’s surface area, it is home to nearly 10% of all the world’s plants, which amounts to 24 000 species.
For the British Museum the Landscape is part of a wider programme of engagement with Africa whose material culture is so important in the context of the Museum’s collections. 2010 marks the 50th anniversary of independence for seventeen African nations including Nigeria, in connection with which the British Museum is displaying a major exhibition ‘Kingdom of Ife: sculptures from West Africa’ from March to June.
For further information please contact:
- Kew Press Office - Bryony Phillips, Bronwyn Friedlander or Tarryn Barrowman: email@example.com/ +44 (0)20 8332 5607
- British Museum Press Office - Esme Wilson: firstname.lastname@example.org /+ 44 (0)20 7323 8394 or
- Maria Marques at Brunswick Arts : email@example.com / +44 (0)20 7936 1290
Images are available to download from http://www.kew.org/press/images/index.html. Please contact the RBG Kew press office for username and password.
Video of plants arriving at the British Museum is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Egm26PFIPUo
Blogs from the Gardeners -http://www.kew.org/blogs
Notes to Editors
Barclays is a major global financial services provider engaged in retail and corporate banking, credit cards, investment banking, wealth management and investment management services, with an extensive international presence in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia. With over 300 years of history and expertise in banking, Barclays operates in over 50 countries and employs over 145,000 people. Barclays moves, lends, invests and protects money for over 49 million customers and clients worldwide. For further information about Barclays, please visit the website: www.barclays.com
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a world famous scientific organisation, internationally respected for its outstanding living collection of plants and world-class Herbarium as well as its scientific expertise in plant diversity, conservation and sustainable development in the UK and around the world. Kew Gardens is a major international visitor attraction. Its landscaped 132 hectares and RBG Kew’s country estate, Wakehurst Place, attract nearly 2 million visitors every year. Kew was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2003 and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2009. Wakehurst Place is home to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank, the largest wild plant seed bank in the world. RBG Kew and its partners have collected and conserved seed from 10 per cent of the world's wild flowering plant species (c.30, 000 species). The aim is to conserve 25% by 2020 and funds are being actively sought in order to continue this vital work. Support the work of Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank partnership by getting involved with the ‘Adopt a Seed, Save a Species' campaign www.kew.org/adoptaseed.
2010 has been declared International Year of Biodiversity by the UN and this will be the main theme for Kew’s 2010 public programme. ‘Biodiversity Year at Kew’ will celebrate the importance of plant diversity in underpinning biodiversity through a programme of themed and seasonal horticultural displays, art exhibitions, educational activities for all the family and scientific announcements. The year kicks off with Tropical Extravaganza (6 February to 7 March 2010), a celebration of the world’s largest and most diverse family of plants – orchids.
Related programme at the British Museum: The landscape will form part of a series of Africa-related events at the British Museum to coincide with the 50th anniversary of African Independence celebrations in 2010 for seventeen countries.
Kingdom of LIfe : Sculptures from West Africa – 4 March to 6 June 2010 – Room 35. This major exhibition presents exquisite examples of brass, copper, stone and terracotta sculpture from West Africa. The exhibition will feature nearly 100 superb pieces of Ife sculpture, drawn almost entirely from the magnificent and unparalleled collections of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Nigeria. Sponsored by Santander. Additional support provided by The A.G. Leventis Foundation.
Impressions of Africa: Money, medals and stamps – 1 April – 14 November 2010, Room 69a. This small display looks at the images of Africa presented on the coins, banknotes, medals, stamps and seals made for the continent during the past 100 years. These miniature art works reflect changing national identities, and celebrate the cultures and heritage of Africa and its people. This display is part of London 2010: Festival of Stamps – www.london2010.org.uk
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