Inspiration from granite outcrops
By: Steve Ruddy - 21/03/2011
Steve Ruddy visits the granite outcrops near Perth in Western Australia to draw inspiration for this year's Landscape at the British Museum.
In this year's British Museum Landscape, our crowd-pulling device is the creation of a replica granite outcrop, based on the Western Australian Inselburgs (isolated island rock formation). I was lucky to see these first hand on my trip to Western Australia in December last year.
Granite outcrop general view, a three hour drive outside of Perth (Image: Steve Ruddy)
These huge landscape interventions feature their own unique flora as explained to me by Grady Brand of Kings Park and Botanic Garden as we stood in the midst of standing boulders. Eagerly documenting the exact composition of every feature of the landscape around me to enable us to create an authentic representation, I realised how delicate this ecosystem is. For example, in the image below you can see how a burning rubber car tyre has caused white staining on the rock. The white staining is the death of the algae that colonise the outcrop and make it a dark brown/black colour.
Outcrop showing the death of algae caused by car tyres (Image: Steve Ruddy)
It's not just physical damage that is affecting the flora and fauna out there; it is also increasingly at risk from factors such as climate change and invasive species.
Lichens, said to grow at approximately 1 mm per year - demonstrating the age of this habitat (Image: Steve Ruddy)
From studying these outcrops, some of the features we hope to represent in our landscape are (left) a cracked granite pavement looking remarkably like a man-made feature; (middle) our wow-factor boulder; and (right) grass trees growing in the thin soils that accumulate in the cracks in the granite outcrop.
(Images: Steve Ruddy)
The building of the Landscape begins at the end of March. Hopefully this has given you a flavour of what to look out for when we open the display on 21 April 2011.
About Steve, Tony and Richard
Steve Ruddy is Manager of the Garden Development Unit, and is responsible for concept design, planning and delivery of a diverse range of projects, services and activities at Kew.
Tony Hall is responsible for Kew’s Arboretum, managing the globally important plant collections and heritage landscape. Expert in all aspects of plant growth and care, Tony manages the Arboretum Nursery ensuring the collections are safe guarded for the future. You can find out more about his work by following the Arboretum team blog.
Richard Wilford is the Collections Manager in the Hardy Display Section at Kew. His responsibilities include both nursery collections and collections on public display such as the Alpine plants, Grass Garden, Woodland and Rock Garden, and Order Beds at Kew. Richard also frequently contributes to the Alpine and Rock Garden team blog.
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