I'm continually impressed by the stunning confluence of artistic talent on South Whidbey Island - and no more so than at Jean Whitesavage and Nick Lyle's Studio Open to reveal the botanical fence they've been working on for many months. Both delicate in its tracery and intricate in its patterning, the fence is one harmonious, impressive hunk of heavy steelwork Jean designed for the new Department of Information Services Building on the Capitol campus in Olympia. It's to be set into a landscape of native plants, including hundreds of our native orange trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera ciliosa, left).
The fence is built in a series of panels with intertwining rhododendron leaves (truly big-leaf rhodies...), honeysuckle leaves and remarkably lifelike tubular flowers. Well, maybe not lifelike considering each blossom is nearly a foot long and made of steel...but Jean has managed to catch the essence and flair of a honeysuckle bloom.
You can be sure I'll follow the fence to Olympia, and write a story about it for Pacific Northwest magazine once its installed. I'm fascinated to see Jean's work set into a landscape of native plants planted in a grid, garnished with hundreds of honeysuckle.
Jean at work in her studio, sorting leaves, flowers and stems
On of Jean's to-scale drawings of fence panels...
You can see the scale of the pieces compared with Jean's hand
The metal will be painted a soft, matte sage green, quite pale, which should show up amazingly in the landscape..
And here are the amazing honeysuckle blossoms...