Project 45 Bute Gardens Written by Cia
This spring term, Gallery Society transformed 45 Bute Gardens into an art installation that explored the relationship between nature and technology, specifically within London. Our work was inspired by Barbara Hepworth's need to work outside and Ai Wei Wei's use of materials and the often political content of his work. Before beginning to create our installation we saw the work of these artists at Tate Britain and The Royal Academy respectively, providing us with a starting point to develop ideas about what we wanted to convey;
London is a melting pot of everything imaginable; it’s a swirl of identities, art, music, literature and more. All of these things are restless, never ceasing to move, like the river that runs through the city itself. One of the concepts in our technology room was that it would be split between a grey industrial theme and a brighter theme that showcased the beauty of a modern, more technologically driven society.
In order to convey the idea of culture being poured into the city visually, we decided to have multiple paint cans pouring into a Thames-shaped puddle on the floor. The river is a tool to both bring together the two sides of the room, and break them apart. Its placement on the floor is a stubborn statement: we want to force the viewer to notice the river as they step over it.
On the roof of the pavilion (just outside our technology room), we created sculptures out of recycled chairs. These were inspired by a fusion of Ai Wei Wei's work with furniture and the London skyline: we created a London Eye-like wheel and cut chairs so that they appeared to sink into the floor. Eventually, we decided to have the half-cut chairs scattered around the wheel to hint at how disheveled London can be. This linked back to the fact that the chairs being used were salvaged from a skip.
In between the natural and modern worlds is the corridor and the mural. We nailed old pine trees left over from Christmas to the corridor wall, and painted a mural. This later addition to the project was another tool to link the two halves of the flat; two of us painted tangled, overgrown vines onto the wall in order to transition from the natural room to the corridor. Originally, we had planned on painting multiple trees that progressed from being completely healthy (near the nature room) to completely dead (towards the technology room).
The nature room's interior is a stark contrast to that of the technology room. We created a waterfall coming out of one of the walls using a mixture of paint and recycled tarp. This was a subtle nod to the body of water that dominates the technology room. The disjointed tree is an appropriation of Ai Weiwei’s dominant sculptures from the courtyard at The Royal Academy. One of the most exciting features about the nature room is the walk-in closet: taking inspiration from Roger Hiorns' Seizure, we have created a jewelled cavern using paint and LED lights.
This project is a mixture of recycled materials, plenty of paint and a whole load of brainstorming on the spot. Although time and our budget were fairly tight, we’ve managed to create an exhibition that none of us had ever dreamed of being the brains and hands behind.