Autumn at Kew Gardens
Brand new festival celebrates autumn colour and beauty
7 – 29 October 2017
Release date: 9 June 2017
- 16 new art works inspired by Kew, revealed within the landscape.
- British artist, Rebecca Louise Law, unveils giant hanging installation of 375,000 flowers.
- Law’s work inspired by Kew’s 1300BC ancient Egyptian dried flowers.
As the year shifts from summer into autumn and the landscape comes alive with its fiery hues, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew will celebrate this inspiring season with both a brand new festival and stunning exhibition showcasing the transient and reflective beauty of nature and our connection with the natural world.
16 diverse and organic works of art by four different artists will be dotted around the wilder parts of Kew’s Arboretum, sitting amongst some of its spectacular heritage trees and wide-reaching vistas. These incredible pieces of environmental art will be site-specific, responding to Kew’s changing environment and made entirely from natural materials. As visitors weave between these beautiful works, from the calm waves of Nigel Ross’ organic, wooden seating sculptures, to the curling, abstract forms of Julia Clarke’s pieces, they will revel in the magical beauty of autumn at Kew, as they in turn are inspired to create their own works of art during various festival workshops.
This celebration of nature as a sculptural form will continue with a spectacular new exhibition in The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art (7 October 2017 – 11 March 2018), including a vast, interactive installation by the British artist Rebecca Louise Law. Inspired by the ancient Egyptian preserved funeral garlands of Ramesses II in Kew’s own collection, dated to 1300BC, Law will suspend 1000 individually sewn hanging garlands, composed of approximately 375,000 beautifully preserved plants and flowers. This hypnotic and immersive mass will enclose natural pathways, allowing visitors to weave their way through, completely surrounded and able to observe nature without the usual constraints of time or decay. Accompaning Law’s mesmerising sculpture will be a rare public display of Kew’s fragile and beautiful ancient Egyptian wreaths, which, draped over mummies and coffins, accompanied the dead to the afterlife.
A true labour of love, Law’s exhibition – Life in Death – will give a new lease of life to her past personal collections of dried plants, some over ten years old, as well freshly preserved flowers, all of which celebrate the sculptural quality and lasting nature of these incredible blooms. As Law says, ‘Preserving, treasuring and celebrating the beauty of the Earth is what drives me’.
Gina Koutsika, Head of Visitor Programmes, Events and Exhibitions at RBG Kew says ‘I am really delighted that Kew will be transformed into a treasure trove of outstanding art works this autumn. The Gardens are such an inspiring place during this captivating season, but when you add in 16 brand new works of art and our gallery bursting with colour and talent, it creates an unmissable experience. I cannot wait to share with our visitors and friends such an immersive and interactive side of Kew.’
Rebecca Louise Law says ‘I am honoured to be creating an installation that takes its inspiration from The Shirley Sherwood Collection, Herbarium and Economic Botany Collection, showcasing the wonder of the flower and it’s material properties. This artwork ’Life in Death’ will allow the viewer to interact with nature without the constraints of time by delaying decay and extending the flowers material value. Every flower will be dried, preserved and entwined with suspended copper wire creating a physical journey through flowers beyond fresh and preserving life within death.’
Also on at The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art (7 October 2017 – 11 March 2018)
Lindsay Sekulowicz: Plantae Amazonicae
In a collaborative project between the artist Lindsay Sekulowicz and Kew’s Science team, new artworks will accompany and illuminate Kew’s collections from the Amazon rainforest. The displays will focus on the collections of botanist and explorer Richard Spruce in the bicentenary of his birth, in an exploration of material, function and meaning, cultural survival and scientific study. Spruce's collections, ranging from poison arrows to barkcloth clothing, enable Lindsay to explore the relationships between people and the natural world, and how they are represented in collections.
Abundance Seeds, Pods and Autumn Fruits
Dr Shirley Sherwood will curate a selection of beautiful contemporary botanical paintings from the Shirley Sherwood Collection.
For images and more information please contact the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Press Office on 020 8332 5607 or email email@example.com
Notes to editors
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a world famous scientific organisation, internationally respected for its outstanding collections 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 and a top London visitor attraction. Kew’s 132 hectares of landscaped gardens, and Kew’s country estate, Wakehurst, attract over 1.5 million visits every year. Kew was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2003 and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2009. Wakehurst is home to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank, the largest wild plant seed bank in the world. Kew receives approximately just under half of its funding from Government through the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Further funding needed to support Kew’s vital work comes from donors, membership and commercial activity including ticket sales.
Rebecca Louise Law is a British Installation Artist exhibiting work internationally, best known for using natural materials, namely flora. The physicality and sensuality of her site specific work plays with the relationship between humanity and nature. Each sculpture highlights the beauty of natural change. The work evolves as nature takes its course and offers an alternative concept of beauty; embracing preservation and decay.
Claudia Wegner is an Austrian painter, ceramicist and mycologist based in Scotland. Her work encompasses the use of a variety of mediums, ranging from traditional oil paint to wood, clay and anything recyclable. Analysing society with a critical eye has always influenced her work, including addressing the environmental issues we face today. Yet, her true passion lies in the elusive world of fungi and their medicinal properties. She aims to unveil their hidden beauty, which she highlights in her large, detailed paintings.
Julia Clarke creates sculptures for indoor or outdoor spaces. She enjoys working with predominantly natural materials, mainly willow, both dried and living, wire, thread, paper, and ceramics. The work evolves slowly coming from an imaginary place. The rhythm of weaving and using tactile materials is very important to the whole process. The willow has its own character with evocative qualities. The work grows into dysfunctional vessels, encompassing space, playing with tension, form and scale.
Nigel Ross is a self-taught sculptor whose art has developed naturally from a life working with trees. Starting from the parks of London, where he learned the skills of tree surgery, to the hills of Arran in Scotland, where he spent several years on the island fencing, planting and harvesting trees as a forest contractor. Ross seeks to save tree trunks from logging and planking, sculpting them into large abstract organic forms. Attempting to harness the energy and strength of the tree, his inspiration comes from an interest in Celtic and Pictish culture as well as contemporary art. Much of Ross’s work is functional sculpture and his benches have been commissioned throughout Britain and Europe as well as USA and Canada.
Woody Fox is a sculptor based in Devon who creates figurative sculptures using natural materials such as willow and dogwood. He specialises in making animal forms and abstract plant shapes using the incredible natural colours that willow provides. He has exhibited widely across the UK as well as abroad and his work often has a quirky expression and humorous quality to it that engages the viewer. The sculptures for the exhibition are hoped to engage the public to becoming one with the pieces and to show the connection between humankind and the plant world.