Living walls are essentially works of art, but now we officially have the world's first living wall painting - a replication of Van Gogh's A Wheatfield, with Cypresses hanging on the outside of The National Gallery in London. As part of a carbon reduction strategy, the museum is working with GE, who also sponsored the creation of this living masterpiece. UK-based ANS Group Europe, who worked on the living wall at the Mint Hotel, designed, grew and installed the living wall on the western side of the museum facing Trafalgar Square. Impressively, the designers needed over 8,000 plants and more than 26 varieties in order to recreate Van Gogh's genius strokes.
Vincent Van Gogh painted his masterpiece in September of 1889, when he was a patient in the St-Rémy mental asylum. Van Gogh was a firm believer in working from nature and through his paintings he attempted to render the “inner character” of the scene, rather than reproducing the landscape exactly. For the living wall painting, ANS combed through The National Gallery’s collection and decided on A Wheatfield, with Cypresses “because the strong bands of color can be reproduced effectively using living plants.”
To recreate the famous painting, ANS needed 26 varieties to try and match Van Gogh’s mastery of color. Making use of the ANS Living Wall System, 640 modules were grown beforehand at ANS’s southern nursery. The grid-like modules were planted according to a pre-determined design indicating which variety should be planted where to create the final image. When mostly grown, the modules were transported to London and hung vertically in Trafalgar Square in three days, meeting their tight deadline.
The living wall painting is part of The National Gallery’s carbon reduction plan and a “creative manifestation of GE’s commitment to the environment through its ‘ecomagination’ business strategy, which is concerned with meeting customers’ demands for more energy-efficient products.” Visitors to London can see the living wall painting on display throughout the summer and fall before it is taken down at the end of October 2011.
Images ©ANS Group Europe and National Gallery, London