8 October 2021

Exhibition highlights: Natural Reserve

Discover the must-see pieces from Zadok Ben-David's landmark exhibition at Kew.

By Grace Brewer

Field of hand-painted, miniature, etched flowers

Our brand-new exhibition at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art showcases poetic pieces by award-winning artist and sculptor Zadok Ben-David

In his first solo exhibition since 2008, Zadok explores the relationship between humanity and the natural world through delicate miniature-artworks and monumental installations. 

‘He shows us where we fit in the natural world’ — Peter Gabriel, musician and collaborator of Zadok Ben-David

Natural Reserve offers a rare and timely opportunity to reflect on the fragility of our natural world which feels more relevant than ever with the unfolding climate crisis and global pandemic. 

Here are our top picks of what to look out for at the exhibition. 

Blackfield 

Receiving sustained critical and public acclaim in over 20 countries worldwide, Blackfield is being displayed for the first time in the UK as the centrepiece of Natural Reserve. 

The immersive 360-degree floor installation contains over 17,000 steel flowers painted, etched, and assembled by hand.  

These tiny floral motifs are based on illustrations from 19th century Victorian encyclopedias. 

Blackfield is a breath-taking piece that provides a unique opportunity to experience Zadok’s unique vision of nature and reflect on the contrasts between life and death. 

Etched, single flower, hand-painted fluorescent pink and blue
Blackfield single flower by Zadok Ben-David © Soupdemots
Black, etched single flower from Blackfield
Blackfield single flower by Zadok Ben-David © Soupdemots
Hand-painted, miniature, etched flowers
Blackfield by Zadok Ben-David, National Museum of Kazakhstan, 2014 © Kramchaninov Gleb

Winter Lights 

Outside the gallery will stand a large sculpture Winter Lights

Human figures form a tree in this large sculpture made from Corten or ‘weathering’ steel that rusts when exposed to the elements.  

This allows the piece to evolve before your eyes, mirroring the changing seasons in nature. 

A tree-shaped steel sculpture by artist Zadok Ben-David
Winter Lights by Zadok Ben-David

Conversation Peace 

Don’t miss Zadok’s thought-provoking video installation Conversation Peace created in collaboration with Ido Sherf and Shahar Brill.

A pair of human silhouettes face each other, either as a confrontation or a conversation, as the narrative reflects on how easily peace can descend into a futile war.

The conversation is accompanied by a moving soundtrack by Avshalom Caspi.

A pair of human silhouettes face each other in front of barren land
Stills from Conversation Peace video installation by Zadok Ben-David, 2018
A pair of human silhouettes face each other in front of thriving land
Stills from Conversation Peace video installation by Zadok Ben-David, 2018

Black Box

This stunning, three-metre, stainless steel disc of over 2,000 hand-painted miniature butterflies and insects invites us to reflect on perceptions of beauty and attraction. 

Taking you into a new world, Black Box is suspended in a darkened space and viewed only under UV light. 

A disc of thousands of colourful insects suspended in darkness
Black Box by Zadok Ben-David, © IlkkaKPhotography

Flower Boxes 

Elegant Flower Boxes will be displayed on the walls of Natural Reserve, made from hand painted stainless steel and perspex box. 

Drawing on the spirit of scientific discovery and tradition of botanical illustration, these boxes are inspired by 19th century botanical illustrations contained within Kew’s expansive archive.  

Manipulation of scale, shadow and reflections adds unexpected dimensions.  

Artwork showing 14 hand painted stainless steel botanical illustrations.
East and West by Zadok Ben-David, © David Scheinman

Natural Reserve promises to be a show to remember – and entry is included in your ticket to the Gardens. 

So step inside our Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art this autumn to see more works by Zadok Ben-David and pause and reflect on the delicate beauty of nature.

Field of hand-painted, miniature, etched flowers

Zadok Ben-David: Natural Reserve

Experience an award-winning artist's take on the ever-increasing fragility of our natural world.

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