Curious Trends


Tony Heywood's conceptual horticulture

Tony Heywood has been described as the “Damien Hirst of horticulture.” Heywood was formerly head gardener for the Church Commissioners, which owns Hyde Park Estates. The flowering skull curiosity, pictured above, called The Head Gardener, was for shown earlier this year by the Fine Art Society. Heywood’s latest creation, Glamourland, made in collaboration with Alison Condie, is currently on display in Berkeley Square (until 20th January).

According to the Art and Architectural Journal Press: “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.”

Glamourland is inspired by the Jurassic coast of Dorset. Two 1.6M high LED screens with programmed animation by Unanico Group are also set in the installation. These 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.”

Heywood also uses high-tech simulation eyewear to generate his conceptual creations, to create a ‘new landscape experience.’ In an interview for the RHS magazine, he explained that, “such an approach has led me to develop an extreme collage-based language, reflecting a sort of cut and past age in which we increasingly encounter landscape only on television or in films, magazines and computer games – often in highly exaggerated and hyper-real form. They are exaggerations, alterations of nature, if you like.” Heywood’s works are a comment on our increasingly manufactured lifestyles, and how we appear to be becoming ever further removed from nature.

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