Van Gogh in plants at the National Gallery London

If I was in London before the end of October 2011 I would definitely visit Trafalgar Square to look at this vertical garden on the wall of the National Gallery. from  treehugger 

gallery wall photo
Photo: B. Alter

It’s the first living painting in London’s Trafalgar Square, and maybe the first anywhere. A Van Gogh picture has been turned into a green living vertical wall.

Depicting Van Gogh’s painting, A Wheatfield with Cypresses, it’s a new way to draw people into the National Gallery to see the real thing.

van wall photo
Photo: National Gallery: A Wheatfield, with Cypresses 1889

The living painting has been constructed by a horticulture and design company which specialises in green walls and roofs. They also did the recently installed living wall in the hotel which bills itself as the “largest vertical wall in Europe.”

They used over 8,000 plants of 25 different varieties. In order to recreate the strong bands of colour in the painting, plants were selected to match the tones. They were then hand-planted into a modular system according to a numbered drawing. The 640 modules were grown vertically at a nursery, ready for installation.

gal wall photo
Photo: B. Alter

It took 3 days to install the wall which forms part of a hoarding outside the gallery. It will remain there throughout the summer and autumn, until the end of October, 2011. Given the range of plants; some flowering now, some later, it will be interesting to watch how it grows and changes over the coming seasons.

up close photo
Photo: B. Alter

‘A Wheatfield, with Cypresses’ was painted in September 1889, when Van Gogh was in the St-Rémy mental asylum, near Arles, where he was a patient from May 1889 until May 1890. Van Gogh promised to send his brother ‘twelve size 30 canvases’ and it seems likely that ‘A Wheatfield, with Cypresses’ was one of them.

The painting has been brought to life with the sponsorship of GE (General Electric) as part of the Gallery’s long-term plan to reduce its carbon footprint. It’s all part of theNational Gallery’s plan to go green. It is already the first gallery to have switched to LED lighting in all of its galleries.

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