A Green Sanctuary

A Green Sanctuary

Time spent enjoying the beauty of the natural world is vital for our mental health. In recent years, we’ve seen growing research on the benefits of “nature-based practice” for wellbeing and it has become a tool for therapeutic practice. This can involve everything from mindful walking to more structured intervention. One study showed that it can lead to “significant reductions in depression and anxiety scores, as well as improvements in physical measures such as lowered blood pressure.” Now, British visual artist Claire Luxton applies this to her breath-taking installation. The multidisciplinary practitioner is known for creating incredible public pieces for The Crown Estate, Westminster, Westfield Forum des Halles and now Battersea Power Station. This year, Luxton was longlisted for the Aesthetica Art Prize 2024 with her captivating portrait series Nature vs Nurture (2020-2023). Her new piece is an immersive, site-specific exhibition that explores the multitude of connections between nature and mental health.

Luxton welcomes us into Field of Dreams. It’s a 12-meter structure that hangs high above our heads. We gaze up in awe at 33 layers of intricately printed fabric that cascades from the ceiling like a waterfall. Each piece of the tapestry has been covered in lush plant life – it’s a verdant garden of blue, green and turquoise suspended in the air. There’s a freshness to these hanging flowers represented through the dewdrops Luxton has included in each print. Visitors to Battersea Power Station will also get to uncover more hidden layers of the artwork as they walk around the building. It’s artwork that keeps expanding, revealing more to us the longer we spend engaging with the piece. This moment of reflection calls us to take a pause from the hustle and bustle of our busy days. It’s a shining example of how art can provide a moment of refuge in our fast-paced daily lives to bring a moment of enjoyment, introspection and relaxation.

We see the connection between humans and plants more clearly in the surreal digital portraits Luxton has made to accompany Field of Dreams. Here, subjects pose as green branches and leaves extend from their faces. The installation and these surreal scenes came out of the research that sparked this whole project. Scientists have found spending just a short amount of time in nature can significantly reduce the stress hormone cortisol. For example, an 2019 review of research published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health concluded that Greenspace Interventions “may have the potential for a profound impact on reducing stress as measured by cortisol, yet the generalizability of the results is complicated by the vast and varied nature of study protocol and data interpretation.” It’s clear that the research is still developing but it’s hopeful that we are living in times where we are learning more and more about the connection between human wellbeing and our surroundings. Luxton draws on this ever-growing field of knowledge by bringing the outside in with each element of this expansive exhibition.

Field of Dreams is a sanctuary in the chaos of urban life. City stimuli – from phone notifications to traffic lights to video advertising – place continuous demands on our attention spans every day. In the midst of all this, Luxton calls us to enjoy a moment of calm. The installation at Battersea Power Station is an opportunity to embark on a sensory journey through multifaceted layers of soothing colours and textures. However, it’s about more than just looking at a visual spectacle – it’s about appreciating our surroundings and ourselves. This is an invitation to prioritise moments of connection at every opportunity.

Battersea Power Station, Claire Luxton: Field of Dreams | Until 16 June


Words: Diana Bestwish Tetteh

  1. Field of Dreams 2024 by MTArt Artist Claire Luxton commissioned by Battersea Power Station. Clothing featured in the portraits provided by Theory and ME+EM.
  2. Copy of Field of Dreams 2024 by MTArt Artist Claire Luxton commissioned by Battersea Power Station. Credit: Backdrop Productions.