This summer Wakehurst invites you to experience its 500-acre landscape differently as part of a brand-new interactive arts event.
Curated by Shrinking Space, The Wonder Project will deepen your connection to this historic landscape and challenge you to become more mindful of the intricate relationships within nature; stories that inevitably involve us.
This unique evening will question our evolving and complex relationship with nature and invite you to wonder, to reshape assumptions. To wonder is to be curious, to be inquisitive - to uncover how and why; the scientist wonders, the artist wonders.
Unfolding along a two-mile journey towards sunset you will encounter newly commissioned soundscapes, sculptures and art installations inspired by Wakehurst’s botanic plants and the scientific research carried out in the Millennium Seed Bank, and across Kew’s global network.
Much of Kew’s current research is about helping humanity stay away from the brink of ecological collapse, one wonders if this is possible? There is research with indigenous groups, attempting, amongst other things, to make amends for colonial mistakes of the past, wanting to listen to their innate knowledge of their environments; the search for wild relatives to safeguard tired, domesticated crop species; the banking of billions of seeds, whose homelands are being overrun by seemingly, insatiable human activity. Surrounding this quest for knowledge sits a dynamic ecosystem of seeds, trees, fungi, birds, insects, scientists, horticulturalists; Kew is rife with organisms wondering.
The experiences and installations that compose the Wonder Project are built from artist-scientist collaborations and ongoing conversations. Each multisensory experience highlights a different aspect of the research going on at Kew Wakehurst and puts it in a different light. From seasonal cycles to colourful interactions with their surroundings the audience will naturally engage and interact with Wakehurst to find their place within it.
The Wonder Project features newly created artwork from world renowned artists including composer Joe Acheson, artist Larry Achiampong and writer Aida Amoako, Limbic Cinema and Eloise Moody and Vicky Long. Artists have previously shown work at and collaborated with Tate, Saatchi Gallery, New Scientist, Glastonbury Festival, the Design Museum (London), BBC, Brighton Digital Festival, among others.
Relic Traveller by Larry Achiampong
Larry Achiampong's solo and collaborative projects employ imagery, aural and visual archives, live performance and sound to explore ideas surrounding class, cross-cultural and post-digital identity.
With works that examine his communal and personal heritage – in particular, the intersection between pop culture and the postcolonial position, Achiampong crate-digs the vaults of History. These investigations examine constructions of ‘the self’ by splicing the audible and visual materials of personal and interpersonal archives, offering multiple perspectives that reveal entrenched socio-political contradictions in contemporary society.
Achiampong has exhibited, performed and presented projects at locations including Tate Britain/Modern, London; The Institute for Creative Arts, Cape Town; David Roberts Art Foundation, London; SAVVY Contemporary, Berlin; Prospect New Orleans, New Orleans; Diaspora Pavilion – 57th Venice Biennale, Venice; and Somerset House, London.
Achiampong is nominated for the Jarman award 2018 for the work ‘Finding Fanon’, a collaboration with David Blandy.
Achiampong’s new site-specific work is formed of four text-based sculptural elements embedded in the grounds of Kew Wakehurst accompanied by written prose in collaboration with writer Aida Amoako. As part of his ongoing ‘Relic Traveller’ these sculptural/textual elements reference the flourishing and decay of diasporic and indigenous bodies. The sculptural features of this new work are complemented by texts given to attendees on a sheet of fragile paper. Taking the form of four individual black boards with hand-written testimonies written in a white chalk, once exposed to the elements become part of the emotional landscape.
Sonic Woodland by Joe Acheson
Joe Acheson is a composer, producer, sound artist mainly known for releasing music as Hidden Orchestra. Aside from Hidden Orchestra, Joe makes music from found sounds, and undertakes music and sound commissions from the likes of The British Library, the BBC, The National Trust, and The Saatchi Gallery.
For The Wonder Project, Joe is collaborating with sound designer and spatial audio engineer Tim Southorn, to create a Sonic Woodland installation in a glade at Kew Wakehurst, building a multi-channel sound system to move sounds around and across trees and the ground to reflect the mycorrhizal symbiosis between the trees and the mushroom networks.
Circa by Limbic Cinema
Limbic Cinema is a video-design studio that specialises in the creative application of projection, light and digital technologies. Their work often involves augmenting architectural features, physical objects and intricate spaces through the use of projected imagery and light. The results can be seen in a variety of scenarios from site specific theatre and installations to one off music events, art galleries and music videos. The outcome is very often immersive and always transformative.
They have produced dozens of stage designs and installations for UK festivals, most notably alongside The Common at Glastonbury Festival 2017 to bring The Temple stage to life with stunning visuals. Limbic Cinema have created bespoke light installations for In Between Time, Greenbelt, Shambala, Green Man and Glastonbury Festival. The studio has also worked closely with theatre giant Bristol Old Vic to deliver a narrative based projection mapping experience, celebrating 250 years of their history.
Circa is a light sculpture that represents the circannual cycle of light levels on earth’s surface in West Sussex. It is divided into twelve physical elements (circles) that each represent one month of the year. The total circumference of each circle represents a twenty four hour day, the amount of daylight hours are displayed through the percentage of the circumference that is lit up. For example for an average of eight hours of daylight over the month of January only one third of the circumference will be lit up.
Colourfield by Vicky Long and Eloise Moody
Eloise Moody is an artist/maker exploring the interface between fine art and craftsmanship through socially engaged practice. Her work investigates subjects of memory, absence and belonging. Often working with specific groups of people, she uses diverse media and skills to translate her research into finely-made objects that return to the public realm.
Vicky Long has a long-held interest in the power of adventure and its capacity to draw us closer to our environment. She has devised and led a range of explorations in the past, involving artists, scientists and young people. All have been geared towards the production of creative outcomes. Together Vicky and Eloise want to pool their skills to provoke creative conversation and participation through thoughtful and dynamic projects.
Colourfield is a new project and a re-imagination of colour. It invites participants on an exploration of the hues in our natural environment, as a way of experiencing and coming to understand our eco-systems in fresh and deeply felt ways.
Leave your preconceptions at the door, venture off the beaten track and seek out the surprising in this awe-inspiring landscape - from rare seeds to the tallest, enigmatic trees.
The Wonder Project took place over 8 nights only, from 26th-29th of July to 5th-9th of August.
Cover image: Jim Holden