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  • Susanne Irving

I had a chance to revisit Kew Gardens recently. It is one of my favourite places in London to find new inspiration.


The stars of the garden at any time of year are the flowers, shrubs and trees of course - who can beat nature's art, especially if you study a plant in detail? - but I also love the way art installations are used to show creation in a new light.


I always enjoy visiting The Hive. On a sunny day - and if there is sufficient space - I love to lie down on its interior platform and watch the clouds go by while 1,000 LED lights turn on and off, creating unique patterns, depending on the level of activity in a nearby bee colony. The light show is accompanied by a soundscape that has been created by musicians who were listening to a live sound feed from a beehive. Through some clever technology, bees and humans are now making music together whilst raising awareness about the importance of bees for our planet.


When I visited, there was also a temporary sound installation by artist Alex Metcalf under four majestic oak trees. Microphones captured the gurgling sound of water as it is transported from the roots of the trees to the tip of the branches. The soundscape changed between species and also depending on the time of day, reminding me once again that there is so much more to nature than ever meets the eye.


Even a photorealistic painting or professional photograph can only ever capture the surface layer of what is in front of us.


What I saw inspired me to search for new ways of incorporating different senses in my paintings.