National Theatre Grows Brown


In May two artists, Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey, covered two sides of the fly tower of the National Theatre with 300 bags of grass seedlings. Their intent was to leave it for 6 weeks and let the public watch as the grass grew and then died. It was intended as a statement on life, decline, death, the weather, and our mortality. The "before" picture of the theatre shows it covered in green grass. Pictured above is the same view, six weeks later. The artists spoke about their work. They said that initially they were very nervous about the piece because it was so large and so exposed and if it went wrong it would be very public. The piece was a culmination of a long period of thinking about grass and working with it. For years people thought that they were mad for working in this medium; it is only in the last 3 or 4 years that the public is more attuned to environmental works.

They love the colour of grass because it is so electric and burns into the retina. The artists noted that this is a very physical work; an event proscribed by time. They said that the dying adds to the texture and makes it look like a painting. To them, the fragility and dying of the grass is as important as the growing of it. The hands-on part of the work is a key part of the work: not only did they plant it, they have also taken care of the project over the past 6 weeks, doing the maintenance and the watering themselves. Even though it has rained, because of the way that the wind and rain hit the building, it still needed watering. But once the project is over, as artists they have to accept that finality, quoting Freud, who said that "all life is death".
:: National Theatre

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