Montreal-born Penelope Stewart has transformed yet another room – this time in a California gallery – with her extraordinary architecture, covering the walls with succulents, baroque tiles and lotus pods all cast from beeswax. The installation is part of a tribute to bees in a new exhibition called Swarm, at Ganna Walska Lotusland, a public estate and gardens in Santa Barbara, where Stewart is artist in residence.
The Toronto-based artist was inspired by the plantings at the estate, purchased in 1941 by Madame Ganna Walska, a Polish opera singer and socialite who spent 43 years creating Lotusland. Stewart was taken with the juicy succulents that flourish in the desert garden, the ceramic tiles that pop up everywhere and the exotic fountain and faucet fittings – all now reflected in her installation. (Above: Detail – baroque tiles, pineapples, doorknobs, candelabra / Below: The succulent wall.)
Stewart has a multi-disciplinary practice comprising installation, sculpture, photography and works on paper. But it is her unique sensory architecture that has brought her particular prominence in Canada, the U.S., Australia, France, Italy and other countries in the last few years. (Above /Below: Apian Screen II, (solo) at the Musée d’Art de Joliette, Québec) See a great post on the emergence of her work on Edible Geography, here.