Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust and Turner Contemporary have commissioned artist Jyll Bradley to make a new piece of work for summer 2017. Dutch/Light (for Agneta Block) will mark the 350th anniversary of the Dutch Raid on the River Medway, which brought about the end of the Anglo-Dutch wars, peace between the two nations and an unlikely cultural exchange based on growing plants.
At the time of the Dutch Raid, Dutch growers were pioneering early glasshouse technology, which started with the simple idea of leaning glass frames against a south-facing wall - the so-called 'Dutch Light' - which led to a horticultural revolution that crossed the North Sea.
“I call the work Dutch/Light (for Agneta Block) because the first person to ripen a pineapple in Europe was Agneta Block, a Dutch horticulturalist and art collector. Pineapple growing using the 'Dutch Light' and southerly wall system was the focus of early Anglo-Dutch horticultural exchange. I feel the story of the Dutch raid is very male; a fascinating by-product of it is a woman growing a pineapple - and our love of glasshouses today.” Jyll Bradley
In the work, five tall ‘Dutch Lights’ are turned on their side and leant against south-facing walls to create an open structure that is activated by the sun, and under which audiences can walk and sit while bathed in geometric colour.
The ‘Dutch lights’ are made of intensely coloured Plexiglas: green (for Kent and the UK) and orange (for the Netherlands).
Symbolically the super structure will be fabricated using wood from Chatham Dockyard; remnant timbers from an old naval building will thus be transformed into a glasshouse, a signifier of the human potential to move toward light and growth.
Commissioned by Chatham Historic Dockyard and Turner Contemporary in collaboration with Culture Kent.