How we designed our new biodiversity chandelier

October 11, 2013
Author: Carys Barriball

When Celine Holman, Eden’s senior exhibit designer maker, was given the brief to ‘tell the story of biodiversity and create a wow’, the possibilities were endless. With the brief fulfilled and the biodiversity chandelier hanging magnificently above heads over our Rainforest Aerial Walkway, Celine reveals the story behind it in this blog.

A spectacular focal point for our new Walkway, the chandelier is a collection of individual shapes that interlink to form clusters that explore six different areas of biodiversity by alluding to stories:

  • how plants eat
  • how plants drink
  • how plants produce energy
  • how plants protect themselves
  • how plants reproduce
  • the interdependency between plants, animals and microbes.

 Biodiveristy Chandelier

 

Celine with the biodiveristy chandelier

Responding to the brief

Celine reveals, ‘Throughout my many years here at Eden there has always been a murmur and excitement surrounding the possibility of having a chandelier somewhere on site. The Rainforest Aerial Walkway provided the perfect opportunity. It means we can tell the story of biodiversity without interrupting the flow of the Walkway and encourage people to look above their heads and really become a part of the canopy.

 

‘Although the freedom of such an open brief fills an artist with great anticipation and excitement, I was faced with the challenge of creating lots of different shapes in a relatively short period of time. The whole process only took around 12 weeks.’

Gaining inspiration

‘It was combination of our own Rainforest Biome and ancient artefacts that provided the inspiration for the chandelier. During a visit to the British Museum I became fascinated with pre-Columbian artefacts and the way they used naive stylistic shapes to create metal figures. I wanted to create amulets in the sky by combining a fast modern design technique with ancient references.

A tour in our Rainforest Biome with Jo Elworthy, Eden’s Director of Interpretation, made me look beyond the beauty of plants and explore their purpose. I don’t think I will ever look at a plant in the same way. This made me realise I needed to tell the story of biodiversity in a subtle and abstract way alluding to stories rather than telling them, to allow each individual a personal interpretation.’

Graphic drawing of the chandelier

 

Celine’s stand-out moment

Celine decided to use aluminum because it’s a light material and able to survive the challenging rainforest environment. It also lent itself to fast computer assisted design technologies which enabled Celine to design the chandelier on a computer as a 2D graphic design before sending it away to be lasered onto metal sheets.

She says: ‘Receiving the metal sheets was incredible. It went from being an on-screen project that I’d been working on for quite a while to something physical, it was ethereal.’

Celine and two others designers then had to hand-shape the metal sheets into the chandelier that now hangs above people’s heads. If you want to immerse yourself in the treetops and discover the stories in our chandelier then come and visit our Rainforest Aerial Walkway as part of your trip to Eden.

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