It is fair to say that an Artwork that has made an impact on my weekly routine (when back in London) is The Hive, the immersive sound and visual experience newly based in the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew. Now a permanent fixture, I try and make it down to Kew as often as I can on the weekends to make the most of their beautiful gardens and constantly expanding art collection (with several Henry Moore sculptures randomly scattered across the public areas). Originally created by artist Wolfgand Buttress for the UK Pavilion at the 2015 Milan Expo, this new interactive art exhibit has now been rebuilt in the oasis lands of Kew Gardens. In response to the recent honeybee population decline in Europe, The Hive sets out to educationally engage with its audience and offer a sensory experience that all of the family will remember. Walking into the metal-barred construction, you truly do get the feeling that you are entering an alien territory of the insect world – with the intensity of the sounds and lights constantly changing and echoing that of the real beehive. Seventeen meters tall, constructed from 170,000 aluminum parts and 1,000 LED lights, this instillation took four months to reconstruct, yet the time spent is reflected in the awe-inspiring visuals from the inside. Linking its lights and sounds to a real beehive in the Gardens, the sensory experience that visitors are exposed to mirrors the actions taking place within the object that inspired its creation. With the seventeen square meters of floor made with glass, Buttress created a transformative space that allows visitors to feel they are floating like a honeybee inside a gigantic industrial hive.
To get the best out of your visit I would highly recommended avoiding the continuous queues of biology school trips that ascend on The Hive during the day, and aim to get there for sundown (just before the Gardens close). This gives you the chance to experience everything amplified, with the lights and sounds intensifying as the bees return to their hive after a busy day out pollenating!
By Flo Sandford-Richardson