The Wonder Project

Seeking art in nature, experience Wakehurst in a different light. Dates: 26 to 29 July
and 2 to 5 August 2018.

Dynamic stories of nature
• Brand new after-hours experience at Wakehurst, Kew’s sister garden in West Sussex
• Interactive journey through Wakehurst’s wild landscape featuring artworks of light,
sound and sculpture.
• Artists include Somerset House Studios’ artist Larry Achiampong, and Joe Acheson,
founder of Hidden Orchestra.
• The evening will include audiences gathering for communal participation in the sunset

This summer immerse yourself in the dynamic stories of nature with a brand-new evening event: The Wonder Project. For a select few nights, visitors will have the chance to take part in a multisensory after-hours journey exploring the wild landscape of Wakehurst, Kew’s sister garden in the heart of West Sussex.

Curated by arts collective Shrinking Space, who have previously worked with the likes of Somerset House and the Science Gallery London, The Wonder Project will encompass specially commissioned soundscapes, sculptures and artworks from a roster of esteemed UK artists and creative studios. Audiences will meander through Wakehurst’s woods, meadows and glades to interact with installations embedded into the landscape. The Wonder Project will encourage people to step out of their comfort zones, step away from their go-to-responses to any given situation, and attempt to wonder about where they find themselves in a new light.

‘Much of Kew’s research is about helping humanity stay away from the brink of ecological collapse, one wonders if this is possible? For example, there is research with indigenous groups; the search for wild relatives to safeguard tired, domesticated crop species; the banking of billions of seeds. Altogether a dynamic, omnibuzzing ecosystem of seeds, trees, fungi, birds, insects, scientists, horticulturalists and wanderers; Wakehurst is rife with organisms wondering. We are looking forward to audiences participating in these stories, allowing themselves to be part of nature.’ Andy Franzkowiak, co-director of Shrinking Space.

Each installation is part-inspired by the stories of the gardens themselves; Wakehurst’s 500-acre expanse boasts an incredible collection of plants, wildflower meadows and woodlands. The artists have also worked with scientists from Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, situated at Wakehurst, to bring to life some of the vital science work undertaken there to preserve and conserve the seeds of the world’s plants for future generations.

One such installation comes from renowned British-Ghanaian artist Larry Achiampong. In partnership with Shrinking Space and Kew Wakehurst, Larry Achiampong has developed a new site-specific work inspired by archival research and his Afro-futurist ‘Relic Traveller’ project. Embedded in the wild botanic grounds are four text-based black sculptural elements accompanied by a haunting prose written in collaboration with Aida Amoako.

The prose references narratives of migration, the flourishing and decay of diasporic and indigenous bodies, and the preservation of knowledge, in part inspired by research carried out at Wakehurst today.

Along the journey, Joe Acheson’s Sonic Woodland will reach the ears of visitors. Brighton-based composer Joe Acheson and sound engineer Tim Southorn have collaborated to create an entrancing soundscape within one of Wakehurst’s woodland glades. The artists have built a sound system to produce a soundscape that emanates from the trees and earth. The installation represents the underground network of fungi that connects trees and allows them to communicate: a natural collaboration which very few people know about. With his solo studio project Hidden Orchestra, Acheson has released four albums and has performed over 250 shows in over 30 countries.

On his work for The Wonder Project, Acheson says: “On visiting Wakehurst we were immediately drawn to a quiet glade in the wilder part of these unique botanic gardens, in which we hope to create a sonic environment which reflects in some small way the intricacy and wonder of the hidden relationships between trees and fungi.”

Creative video-design studio Limbic Cinema have constructed a mesmerising light sculpture to reflect the solar cycle. The twelve illuminated elements of the installation represent each month of the year. Limbic Cinema have previously created works for festivals including Glastonbury, Shambala and Greenman to name a few.

Throughout the journey, visitors will also be able to participate in the creation of Colourfield by artists Eloise Moody and Vicky Long, a new project that will ask audiences to reimagine colour in response to Wakehurst’s wild and wondrous environment. Over the course of the eight evenings of The Wonder Project, a ‘People’s Archive of Colour’ will emerge, representing participants’ experience of colour at Wakehurst.

Lorraine Cheesmur, Head of Programmes and Learning at Wakehurst, says: “The Wonder Project will offer a bewitching experience to both first-time and regular audiences to Wakehurst, stimulating their curiosity and inviting them to learn more about the importance of plants and our own place in the natural world.”

Audiences will be able to pick up a glass of wine and a bite to eat before they embark on their journey.

Prices and Times:
Time: 7pm-9.30pm (Gates open 6.30pm. Last entry 7.30pm, and gardens close 10pm).
Price: Adults from £12
Children (4-16) from £6 (Free for under 4s) Recommended age: 7+


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