National Theatre Grows Green


British artists Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey love grass. A few years ago they grew it all over the floor, ceiling and walls of a deconsecrated church and they have invented a way of using photosynthesis so that they can make faces and images on it. They are even growing it on the wall of their dining room.

For their latest creation, they are covering the fly tower of the National Theatre. The fly tower is a very prominent part of this important 1970's building, flying high above its severe concrete monolithic base (see the before). Now here is the after, covered with vivid grass on two sides. It has become "a beacon of green" in the area; it almost looks like a blanket or, dare we say it--astro-turf!

The artists say it is "a reminder of rolling fields in the midst of the city." Working with a crew of twenty, the artists hauled two and a half tons of clay up 10 storeys of scaffolding and smeared it across the concrete to a thickness of four or five millimetres. Then they had to push the seedlings into the damp clay. Gradually the green grass will grow longer, as it is watered by rain and gardeners, and ultimately it will yellow and die.

This is a comment on growth, decay and global warming. Calling their work "perverse horticulture", the artists are very concerned with the environment and their art shows it.

They were part of the Natural History Museum's exhibition of climate change in the Arctic--their piece was a whale's skeleton which they froze and then covered with crystals. Future projects include designing a wind turbine and a carbon neutral house.
:: National Theatre

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