Pip & Pop: When Flowers Dream at Kew Gardens
Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art, London
May 21, 2022 – March 05, 2023
This May, award-winning artist Pip & Pop presents a new exhibition at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art, Kew Gardens. Inspired by mythologies and folklore, When Flowers Dream explores themes of consumption, wish- fulfilment, and seemingly endless abundance, using eye-popping candy colours and a playful sense of perspective to immerse audiences in a uniquely wonderful world. Part of Kew’s exciting new Food Forever summer programme, this is the debut London exhibition for Australian artist Tanya Schultz, who works as Pip & Pop to create immersive installations from an array of materials, including sugar, modelling clay and sweets, as well as objects sourced on her travels all over the world.
As well as showcasing a range of sculptural work throughout the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art, When Flowers Dream will also include a brand-new installation, created in close collaboration with scientists at Kew. Exploring the idea of a food utopia for the future, this hand-assembled, technicolour installation will be filled with foods identified as neglected and underutilised species. Taking the shape of a highly detailed and colourful landscape, the piece also draws inspiration from imaginary worlds from legends including Luilekkelerland and the Land of Cockaigne- mythological realms where everything the eye can see is created from food. Botanical paintings from Kew’s archive will also form a central part of the exhibition, with a colourful selection of 19th-century works showcasing underutilised edible plant species, including Ensete, Baobab and Granadilla.
As outlined in Kew’s recent State of the World’s Plants and Fungi report, 2 in 5 plants worldwide are estimated to be threatened with extinction, and at present, we are overly dependent on only a few species for food. This has left the global population vulnerable to malnutrition and climate change. There are more than 7,000 known species of edible plants which we could be eating, and crop diversity is key to feeding the world’s growing population. Research by Kew Scientists and partners all over the world has highlighted plant-based foods of the future including Pandanus, Akkoub and Morama bean, which provide the inspiration behind the installations at the heart of this unique and striking exhibition with its vivid and optimistic vision of foods for the future.
Tanya Schultz says: “I’m delighted to be bringing When Flowers Dream to the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art at Kew Gardens and am really looking forward to seeing everything evolve and come to life during the creative process. The opportunity to explore vital themes of future foods and food security in collaboration with Kew’s scientists is one which has scarcely felt more timely or important. As the impact of climate change weighs heavily on our future, I hope to create a new artwork that is optimistic and allows us to imagine a better world. It will be a visual feast of colour and sweetness, enticing and appealing, yet with serious ideas beneath it.” Maria Devaney, Galleries and Exhibitions Leader at RBG Kew adds: “Pip & Pop’s vibrant food fantasia promises to be a wonderful treat for visitors of all ages, and it’s wonderful to be working with Tanya to bring her unique work to fruition here at Kew Gardens. As well as being a real visual feast, the exhibition also encompasses hugely important ideas about the way we encounter and interact with our fragile planet, as well as offering a vibrant vision of hope for the future as we each consider our own consumption more closely.”
Alongside When Flowers Dream, The Art of Food will be presented in Gallery Six. Featuring a series of still life and plant portraiture from the Shirley Sherwood Collection works on display as part of this exhibition showcase plants which provide carbohydrates, proteins and vitamins and nourishment. Artists featuring in The Art of Food include Phansakdi Chakkaphak, Brigid Edwards and Alvaro E. X. Nunes. Food Forever, Kew’s exciting summer programme for 2022 runs from Saturday 21 May – Sunday 18 September. An exploration of how the food choices we make can impact the planet, the programme includes film screenings and talks, as well as featuring four large-scale art installations in an interactive trail around the gardens. Pip & Pop is supported by the Western Australian Government through the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries as part of the UK/Australia Season 2021-22. The UK/Australia Season is a major new cultural exchange between Australia and the United Kingdom celebrating the diverse and innovative artist communities and cultural sectors of each nation.
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