Graphic Rewilding has been industriously ‘planting the seeds for a regenerative transformation of the upper tier of The Village at Westfield London, which entails a massive, interactive floral mural known as Graphic* Rewilding Westfield. For the first time, the pioneering artistic pair Baker+Borowski have incorporated AR, crafting an immersive art-meets-nature experience designed to captivate Londoners across all generations.
The duo is celebrated for their imaginative reclaiming of city spaces (also the masterminds behind the recent viral hit Skip House). The latest venture by Graphic Rewilding is their most extensive and daring to date. It consists of several eight-metre-high panels, equating to 1.5 square km of a constantly evolving, maximalist wildflower landscape. These striking visuals will engulf the enormous round atrium walls on The Village’s first floor.
Visitors can access augmented reality by scanning the QR codes on the floor. Doing so will bring the bold floral artwork to life, revealing a dynamic abstract meadow. The codes are strategically placed to act as portals into an awe-inspiring world of free-floating flowers, swaying grass, hovering bees, dragonflies, and effervescent drifting pollen. Visitors are invited to wander through this world.
Westfield London‘s partnership with the artists presents an innovative and playful approach to ‘bring the outside in’, encouraging urban environments to connect with nature while simultaneously improving mental health and wellbeing. Commissioned by Zoe Allen of Artistic Statements, the installation will be open over the summer months from June 7th through to August 2023.
With 75% of Londoners purportedly lacking adequate access to green spaces, Graphic Rewilding felt a compelling need to redress this disparity through their vibrant imagery. This is supported by the understanding that even the simple act of viewing pictures of nature can enhance mental wellbeing. Observing natural scenery boosts activity in the brain areas responsible for managing emotions and focus while also promoting the increase of alpha-wave activity, which is linked to relaxation and states of meditation.
The sheer scale of the installation and the pastel colour scheme have been designed to evoke feelings of springtime and calm without being overwhelming. It marks a diversion from the colour schemes of previous works, but still retains their signature injection of bold vitality into the urban environment.
“Furthermore, new artworks are always a brilliant opportunity to explore the natural and cultural history of an area and Shepherd’s Bush has a particularly rich seam. The name may have originated from the use of the common land here as a resting point for shepherds on their way to Smithfield Market in the City of London. Sheep adore clover, dandelions, and buttercups and so in amongst the blousy blooms we’ve included these wildflowers.” Lee Baker, Graphic Rewilding
“The Village at Westfield London has been the perfect opportunity to work with Graphic Rewilding; with huge 8M ceilings and beautiful undulating architecture – I could just see their incredible work being brought to life in a way that would feel all-encompassing for visitors of all ages…it felt timely to introduce Mother Nature into a retail environment like this.
The aim of the project is to introduce the colour and diversity of nature in an abstract and hyper-real way – inviting viewers to walk through an urban ‘wildflower meadow’. Fuelled by curiosity and the ‘desire to hack people’s happiness’ – the installation is an experiential cacophony of abstract whimsical caricatures, saturated with colour, outlined in black and placed at eye level to stimulate connection with the viewer. Baker is fascinated by the intersection of art and nature and its positive influence on the mind and body. Nature and nature-inspired imagery have long been known to be beneficial for reducing stress and anxiety.
Through his own personal journey and love of art and video games, the artist wanted to explore his biophilic sensibility through developing art, nature, and video-game-inspired technology. To achieve this, Graphic Rewilding collaborated with experts at True Group to incorporate AR technology into their work. In a world of ‘gamification,’ the artists wanted to show how technological engagement can also be used to create unexpected benefits to health, mood and psychology.
According to Baker, the upper floor of The Village, Westfield London provided the perfect canvas to create the maximalist floral-inspired, immersive installation. In researching the natural and cultural history of the Shepherd’s Bush area they wanted to make a ‘wildflower’ homage that reflected the area’s heritage. The artists have always been attracted to reimagining and transforming urban spaces and environments. They also wanted to reintroduce a visceral ‘sense’ of nature to the busy West London area to encourage connection and empathy with the natural world.
There’s so much detail to their stunningly intricate floral illustrations, the artists and I were excited to bring these to life through an AR integration to engage on an even deeper level. We hope everyone that interacts with the artwork feels uplifted, educated, and inspired by the experience!” Zoë Allen, Artistic Statements
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