A brilliant greenhouse suffused with a rich spectrum of color stands at 25 Porchester Place in London. Bathed in sunlight by day and illuminated by LED bulbs at night, the translucent structure is lined with a disorienting collage of Christian iconography and folkloric imagery: saintly figures sprout insect wings and wildlife occupies spaces usually dominated by humans in a melange of spiritual symbols.
Titled “Sacré blur,” the greenhouse is a 2015 project by horticultural artists Tony Heywood and Alison Condie, who originally created the piece to house psychedelic plants at the Oxford Botanic Gardens—this part of the project never materialized over fears that students might misuse the hallucinatory specimens. The intention for the sculpture revolved around the idea of sacred light, the foremost example being stained glass, and creating a transcendent space complete with a mirrored infinity floor. “We are gardeners,” Heywood shares with Colossal. “The greenhouse is an architect’s equivalent of a temple. It’s where life begins and the ritual of caring and nurture take place.”
The London-based pair, who work as Heywood & Condie, began by dismantling hundreds of panels, some of which dated back to the 18th and 19th centuries, and following the patterns and grisaille to splice new creatures. They then glued the layered works to the existing frame of a greenhouse. “The idea is nature transforming and using the stained glass as a medium to visit a (time) when we worshiped plants, insects, and animals, as opposed to the Christian line of thinking that humans are above animals, above everything,” Heywood says.
This connection to the earth alongside an interest in the broad reaches of spirituality influence the pair’s practice, particularly those relating to creation myths and about bringing new life into existence. “Church is about shifting our consciousness and making us think of where we lie in the world and likewise, whether it’s a psychedelic experience or a meditative experience, it’s about shifting our attention,” he shares. “Gardening is an act of creation.”
“Sacré blur” has been exhibited in multiple locations in recent years and will be at its current spot for the coming weeks. Heywood & Condie have a few works in progress at the moment, including an alphabetical labyrinth on a northwest U.K. beach and an obelisk collection mixing religious stained glass along with pieces from early pinball and gambling machines that will be on view at Vigo Gallery. You can also see their works as part of The Poetry of Trees, which opens at The Atkinson in Southport on June 4, and on June 11, a series of jewel-encrusted marine microorganisms will float across The Water Gardens at Marble Arch in London. (via Steampunk Tendencies)
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