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New exhibit in Honolulu to feature over 1 million flowers and botanical elements

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Honolulu Museum of Art
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HPR
British artist Rebecca Louise Law works on "Awakening," which opens soon at the Honolulu Museum of Art.

Growing up, Rebecca Louise Law always loved nature.

“Yes, you'd have found me outdoors more than indoors,” she said. “The connection I had with the land and with the Earth and flowers and trees, for me, felt normal.”

That love for nature eventually grew into a career as an artist – using the environment as her inspiration. Louise Law, who grew up in England, has used flowers to create immersive exhibits around the world since 2003.

“I had discovered installation art and the art where the viewer is as much a part of the artwork as the material in the artwork,” she said. “I found flowers, once you preserved them and dried them, would give you a really beautiful palette of colors.”

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Sophia McCullough
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HPR
Volunteers help to string flowers in preparation for the "Awakening" exhibit.

Now she is preparing to open her exhibit, “Awakening,” at the Honolulu Museum of Art. It will feature more than 1 million flowers, plants and other materials. They were collected from her exhibits around the world and from local community donations. The garlands will hang from the ceiling in two of the museum's galleries.

“I think the viewer will feel that they're in a moment with nature. And often with people it will provoke childhood memories of natural materials,” she said. “And it may be that they just get bathed in a certain color as they walk through one of the areas. But it’s a journey through nature.”

Louise Law has worked with Foster and Koko Crater botanical gardens, as well as community groups, to integrate about 50,000 flowers, plants and other materials found in the islands. That includes hibiscus, kukui, pīkake and puakenikeni.

They are dried and hand strung on copper wire by a team of about 250 volunteers, who she said she's enjoyed getting to know.

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Honolulu Museum of Art
/
HPR
Rebecca Louise Law working on "Awakening" at the Honolulu Museum of Art.

“Well, I love the history and the symbolism of the flowers here,” she said. “And I love the fact that the stories that come with each seed and each flower are so rich.”

For the first time, she will also include ocean debris and plastics in her exhibit. She said a big part of her artwork reflects what’s happening locally, so she wants to draw attention to the pollution at our beaches.

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Sophia McCullough
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HPR
Volunteers help to string flowers at the Honolulu Museum of Art.

“This artwork is a call for the viewer to think about how we live and what do we need and the excess, and just simplifying life a little bit more and being conscious and living responsibly,” she said. “And looking after not just the Earth, but each other.”

“Awakening” opens to the public on Sept. 17 and will be on display for one year. It is included with general admission to the museum, and no additional reservations are needed.

This is Louise Law’s first exhibit in Hawaiʻi, and she said she hopes to be back.

“I honestly feel like my work has come home in terms of the lei,” she said. “And showing love through flowers is what my work is about and that connection that we have to nature. So yeah, I would love to come back.”

Rebecca Louise Law
Extended interview on The Conversation - Sept. 9, 2022

Editor's note: The Honolulu Museum of Art is an HPR underwriter.

Jayna Omaye is the culture and arts reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Contact her at jomaye@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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