‘Queer Nature’- Kew Gardens celebrate the diversity and beauty of plants and fungi in new festival

Nestled within the grand Temperate House, this new innovative showcase explores the fascinating intersection between the plant kingdom, fungi, and LGBTQ+ communities.
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This autumn, London’s Kew Gardens is hosting a new festival celebrating the diversity and beauty of queer plants and fungi.

Nestled within the grand Temperate House, this new innovative showcase explores the fascinating intersection between the plant kingdom, fungi, and LGBTQ+ communities.

As part of the festival, Kew has commissioned four bespoke installations, featuring stories by queer artists, gardeners, scientists and more.

What’s on display at the festival?

The festival’s main attraction is a large-scale suspended artwork by Jeffrey Gibson.

“House of Spirits” is an intricate, layered collage of fabric, illustration and text, incorporating previously unseen botanical illustrations alongside writing and patterns informed by Gibson’s own perspectives on queerness and nature.

Within his wide-ranging art practice, New York-based Gibson draws upon his Choctaw-Cherokee heritage as well as queer theory, politics and art history.

House of Spirits by Jeffrey Gibson at Kew’s new festival, Queer Nature House of Spirits by Jeffrey Gibson at Kew’s new festival, Queer Nature
House of Spirits by Jeffrey Gibson at Kew’s new festival, Queer Nature

As visitors venture deeper into the Temperate House, they will encounter the newly-designed garden, ‘Breaking the Binary,’ a collaborative effort between horticulturist Patrick Featherstone and Kew’s Youth Forum.

Breaking the Binary features a range of plant species with reproductive methods that offer a challenge to binary language.

Beyond the stunning botanical displays, ‘Queer Nature’ delves into the historical use of plants and fungi as symbols within LGBTQ+ communities.

LGBTQ+ scientists and horticulturists, historians, artists, writers, and more come together in a series of video interviews, brought to life through an installation designed by Adam Nathaniel Furman.

Adam Nathaniel Furman stands with their installation at Queer Nature, Kew Gardens Adam Nathaniel Furman stands with their installation at Queer Nature, Kew Gardens
Adam Nathaniel Furman stands with their installation at Queer Nature, Kew Gardens

Kew has also invited artists Ama Josephine Budge Johnstone and LiLi K. Bright to respond to the theme of Queer Nature through two spoken word pieces.

Rebecca Harfield, Queer Nature visitor programmes manager said: “Queer Nature celebrates the incredible diversity of nature so this is all about what Kew Gardens does best.

“It’s about plants and fungi that don’t quite conform to traditional expectations. They challenge our view of them.”

Julie Flavell, head of visitor programmes and exhibitions at RBG Kew, says: “We are incredibly excited to celebrate the beauty and diversity of plants and fungi at Kew Gardens this autumn.

“This unique collaboration between art, science, horticulture and LGBTQ+ communities will be the first of its kind at Kew, promising to transform the Temperate House into a unique experience for all to enjoy. We hope visitors will leave feeling inspired by the wonder of the natural world”

‘Queer Nature’ runs until October 29 2023.