Heywood and Condie’s horticultural installations have been located on the lawns of the Tate, Lord’s Cricket Ground, floating sculptures on the Serpentine in Hyde Park. Glamourland, is a multi-media landscape displayed in a 7m x 3.5m window-fronted steel box, in Berkeley Square. The installation is the third in this series, with each Glamourland representing a specific place. The tableau in Berkeley Square is inspired and derived from the Jurassic Coast landscape in Dorset, while previous works interprested Formby Beach near Southport and Tintagel in Cornwall. This new twist on landscape art combines elements of sculpture, botanical field study, digital animation and shamanism. Described by Heywood as ‘a radical celebration of the English landscape’, the work considers man’s engagement with nature. It also has overtones of the 18th century Picturesque movement with its idealised versions of natural settings.
The process of creating the works is a spiritual activity. After carefully selecting a location, the artists spend many hours drawing and filming in situ. Heywood intensifies his experience of the environment by going through a shamanistic practice known as ‘meditative journeying’ a technique deployed to find ‘the spirit of a place’. Back in the artists’ London studio, Heywood replays the film made at the scene wearing virtual simulation eyewear to relive the experience. During the replay he sketches a graphic expression of the film onto the walls and floor of a steel chamber using graphite in a frenzy of automatic drawing. The artwork provides the template from which Heywood and Condie create clay maquettes. These are then carved into sculptures that are scaled up for the project from man-made materials and coated in copper and bronze. Condie inlays the surfaces of the sculpture with synthetic gems, giving them an iridescent skin that reacts to the viewer’s movement and changes in light levels.
Professional horticulturalists, Heywood and Condie take botanical notes of the plants and vegetation indigenous to the location in order to place the same species in the installation. After sourcing trees and growing plants, they are part-sprayed with resin and other synthetic materials to create part-alive, part-dead ‘zombie plants’. The extraordinary power of nature is revealed as new shoots break through the plastic coating. The sculptures, trees, and plants are then assembled in the box along with digital insertions. The installation grows throughout the exhibit, creating a living sculpture that is tended to by the artists.
Two 1.6M high LED screens with programmed animation by Unanico Group are set in the Jurassic Coast Glamourland. The digital works animate the landscape and resemble contemporary totem poles, providing both elements of the spirit of the land associated with shamanism and abstract figures within the landscape. Ritual performances will take place at Glamourland before and during the installation period.
Glamourland (Jurassic Coast) by Tony Heywood & Alison Condie. A multimedia landscape in a box, Berkeley Square, London W1. 11 October 2011 – 20 January 2012. In collaboration with Unanico Group. Tony Heywood is represented by VIGO Gallery
“Heywood’s work defies the conventions of the gardening establishment”, The Guardian
“Tony Heywood cross-fertilises landscape design with sculpture and philosophy”, Financial Times
“The most avant of Britain’s avant gardeners”, The Sunday Times