Yes May, but are plants art?

November 8, 2011 at 23:12

Mama Lewis


I love Kew Gardens.

The Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew are wondrous – a playground for the imagination. There are plants with leaves that stretch longer than your body. Trees whose branches form a dark cave to hide within. Swirling trails leading to where? Who knows? Kew is a place to get lost in. It is totally immersing.

Kew is a rare jewel for disabled people and I see loads of them every time I go. You could walk around the grounds for hours and never get caught out because your wheelchair couldn’t manage it; the gardens are almost entirely flat and the paths well maintained. It is also completely accessible. I say completely though, even with all my visits, I still have not seen everything so I don’t know how accessible every building is.

If that didn’t convince you, in one rare positive of May’s disability, May gets in for FREE (because she is under-16) and I get in for FREE as her carer. If you are caring for someone who is disabled – go now. Right now. Stop whatever you are doing and pack up the car. Treat yourself. You deserve it.

Okay, so we’ve established that I love Kew Gardens.

What of the art? Kew has an art collection and outside installations like Tom Hare’s Willow Sculptures. Hare’s sculptures are magnificent, woven, willow representations of tiny seeds. By magnifying the seeds hundreds of times larger than they actually are, Hare allows us the kind of close inspection Jonathan Swift would be proud of. They are playful, while at the same time extraordinarily bizarre and creepy.

Here’s the thing. I take May to see a lot of art; well, a lot of art for a toddler. Much of what we see is big and bold because I want May to engage visually with the work.

But, she doesn’t. At least not in a striking way that I can perceive. But, I also hope that she takes in some of what she sees, and maybe it just won’t be evident until she is older. One day, maybe she will see better and it will be down to a collection of moments like this. You never know.

This time was different. Hare’s sculptures are hard to miss. They enormous and also they are all one color and that color is dark brown. Each is set a great distance from anything else, so there is nothing else in May’s field of vision to distract her. All these things work in May’s favor.

But, who cares what I think.

May? What do you think? Sure you like Kew, but are the Willow Sculptures art?

Kick! Kick! Kick! And, some concentrated gazes. Definitely interested… “Yes,” says May, “it is art!”*

*May believes that any atheistic form that transform the world of the viewer, is equal to the claims of art. (Or, at least that’s what my husband said, she told him.)


Read how I felt about visiting May’s new special school today on BabyCenter’s Momformation.


  1. Madgew November 9, 2011 Reply

    She is so holding her head so much better. Adorable May and I love her outfit. Beautiful gardens and sculpture.

  2. Francesca November 9, 2011 Reply

    OOo, I love Kew...haven't been for ages! - and now I know I can get in for free too! thank you! xxx

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