I visited the botanical gardens in Kew, London, today. I only stayed a couple of hours as the sky was heavy with the threat of rain.
The gardens are currently hosting giant blown glass sculptures by American artist Dale Chihuly. I didn’t expect to enjoy them, I assumed they’d all be medium-sized and clustered in one area. But they were very large and spread about the gardens in an attractive way.
Of course there were also parties of school children wandering around. I caught glimpses of the way the Kew Gardens visit was being incorporated into their school work. Most of the time the focus seemed to be on taking measurements and on the chemical processes inside the plants.
When I was at school I loved art and had very little interest in science. Like many people I considered science and art to be two very separate subjects. I wish now that I had been taught to see the art in plants, to look at their forms and colours as things of beauty.
Projects like the Chihuly display show how art and botanical science can interact. I wonder how much Chihuly was influenced by plant shapes and to what degree I paid more attention to the plant shapes because of the Chihuly sculptures.