15 October 2020

The making of Glow Wild

Uncover the magic behind Wakehurst's winter lantern trail Glow Wild.

Grace Brewer

By Grace Brewer

Shining star lanterns amongst trees at Glow Wild

Preparations for Glow Wild 2020 are underway.

This year we are working with three new artists to showcase a dazzling display of light, from sparkling lanterns to illuminating projections.

Here we explore the latest additions to our festive winter spectacle, the inspirations behind installations, and the hard work going on behind the scenes.

OGE group: ‘Light a Wish’

The creative collective of architects and designers, OGE Group, are bringing their award-winning ‘Light a Wish’ installation from Amsterdam’s canals to Wakehurst’s Black Pond.

Their installation of giant, gently sparkling dandelion seed heads is inspired by childhood memories of picking dandelion flowers and blowing the seeds into the wind to cast a wish. 

Re-live these magical moments or experience them for the first time on your journey along the Glow Wild trail.

Giant, sparkling dandelion seed heads over Amsterdam's canals
OGE Group’s ‘Light a Wish’ installation over Amsterdam’s canals © OGE Group

Making the wish

OGE Group use a mixture of materials and like to play with size, volume, and appearance to make a tangible installation that creates a dialogue with the audience.

'Light a Wish' was first designed with the help of 3D software and simulations, taking 2-3 months.

Then, over the course of a few weeks, the design studio built the installation with plenty of welding, cutting, gluing, bending and electrical work.

Giant, sparkling dandelion seed heads over Amsterdam's canals
OGE Group’s ‘Light a Wish’ installation over Amsterdam’s canals © OGE Group
Giant, sparkling dandelion seed heads over Amsterdam's canals
OGE Group’s ‘Light a Wish’ installation over Amsterdam’s canals © OGE Group

Sarah Hall-Baqai: Fairy-tale fungi lanterns

Graphic designer and sculptor Sarah Hall-Baqai is introducing a new installation to our Winter Garden this year which explores the wonders of fungi.

Her fascinating fungi lanterns, from an enchanting fairy ring to giant puffballs, are inspired by the beautiful illustrations by Katie Scott in the book, Fungarium.

These luminary delights explore the elaborate textures and vibrant colours of fungi against the dramatic landscape of the Winter Garden.

Giant toadstall lanterns
Sarah building some fungi lanterns © Sarah Hall-Baqai

Unearthing the fungi lanterns

Sarah’s lanterns are made from the versatile mediums of paper and willow.

Each of her lanterns takes between two and four days to complete depending on the size and complexity of the structure and surface design applied. 

The willow structure is formed, which is then covered with cling film to give it more strength. 

Several layers of translucent white paper and dilute PVA glue are then applied to the structure and the coloured surface pattern is sandwiched beneath the last layer of paper. 

Brown mushroom and multi-coloured bracket fungi lanterns
The making of Sarah’s fungi lanterns © Sarah Hall-Baqai

The Colour Project: Giant projections

Breath-taking 3D animations will be cast onto the Wakehurst landscape, created by digital design studio The Colour Project.

In celebration of nocturnal life, you will find projections of majestic barn owls among the trees of our Pinetum.

The Colour Project will also shine a light on our Elizabethan Mansion to reveal the secret life of fungi.

Also inspired by the elegant illustrations in the Fungarium book, their animations delve below ground to uncover fungi networks that are normally hidden from the human eye.

White majestic barn owls swooping amongst trees
Mock-up of the majestic barn owl projections set to appear in Wakehurst’s Pinetum © Colour Project

Casting some light

To create the giant Mansion projection, the Colour Project started with a storyboard illustrating the mysteries of fungi.

Mood boards helped pull together their visual approaches, which were all designed to complement the size, surface, and style of our Mansion.

The Colour Project then produced a rough animated timeline of the main visual and audio components of the show which provided an idea of timings and rhythms. 

Their creative team of character animators, 3D modellers, illustrators and motion graphic artists began modelling and animating for the final show using a combination of line drawing and 3D modelling.

To help with this, the creative team produced an exact 3D digital model of the Mansion. 

All this work can take the team anywhere between eight to 20 weeks to complete. 

The final animations are then projected onto our Mansion using specialist video mapping software and high-powered laser projectors.

Sound designers and composers, Ithaca, will complement the animations with an evocative soundscape.

Experience this stunning artistry come to life at Glow Wild this winter.

Multi-coloured toadstalls projected onto Wakehurst's Mansion
Mock-up of a fly agaric animation set to be projected onto Wakehurst’s Mansion © Colour Project
Dandelion seeds, majestic owl, star lanterns and the UK's tallest Christmas tree

Glow Wild 2020

Join us at Wakehurst on a spellbinding winter lantern trail for all ages.


Pick up a copy of one of Katie Scott's beautifully illustrated books from our online shop.

Read & watch