Description of Nests – Patterns from Nature, an Environmental Art Exhibit in the Filoli Garden and Nature Preserve in Woodside, CA. The exhibit was created by W. Gary Smith.
A friend and I recently hiked around the beautiful grounds of Filoli, located in Woodside, California. The historic house and its gardens are always a pleasure to visit. We were particularly interested in viewing the exhibit of Nests – Patterns from Nature (on display through November 10, 2019).
After we parked my friend, who is both a member and a volunteer at Filoli, pointed out to me the tree-shaded picnic tables near visitor parking where picnicking is permitted before visitors enter the grounds.
From there we started towards the visitor center to obtain our entry wristbands. On our way to the visitor center we encountered the first work of art – Nests Afloat – located in the nearby olive grove.
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After securing our wristbands we took a few minutes to watch the introductory film detailing the history of the house and gardens. My friend mentioned that when she is volunteering at Filoli she always encourages visitors to view the film beforehand. While I had been to Filoli previously, this was the first time I watched the film. It was both interesting and informative. Most importantly, with the background provided I had a greater appreciation for what I saw throughout the day.
The Artist, W. Gary Smith
The artwork dotting the Filoli landscape was created by W. Gary Smith, an artist and landscape architect. Smith has designed numerous public gardens and environmental art projects. According to his website his goal for his artwork is “…creating meaningful encounters between people, plants, and the natural world.”
Using materials from the Filoli Estate, the exhibit created by Smith features forms inspired by both patterns in nature and nesting animals.
As one views each exhibit one can only imagine the effort that went into its creation and admire the creativity of the artist!
The Exhibit, Nests – Patterns from Nature
It was going to be quite warm that day, so we decided to start with a hike along the one-mile Estate Trail. As we made our way towards the trail we came upon the second exhibit on the North Terrace of the house – Bowerbird.
After checking out Bowerbird we continued towards the start of the trail – but made a short detour to view Giant Nest in The Meadow. Made from fallen native oaks, it is huge!
From there we walked the trail through the Cottonwood Grove and Redwood Grove, passing Red’s Barn on our way to the Sally MacBride Nature Center (open Thursdays-Sundays). The Nature Center is small – but interesting. All the animals and other artifacts displayed were found on the Filoli Estate.
Making our way back along the trail we proceeded to meander around the grounds from one end (Sunken Garden) to the other (The High Place), admiring the varied trees, flowers and shrubs – and the Nests – Patterns from Nature exhibit! Afterwards, we visited the house – but that and more on the estate and gardens will be the subject of another blog post.
Note: The use of natural materials that blend into their surroundings in the construction of the artwork is beautiful – but it does not always photograph well. I have chosen a few of my photos to include in this post – but you will gain a better appreciation by viewing the exhibit in person. Remember – you have until November 10th!
On the estate grounds you will find:
- Nests Afloat (Olive Grove)
- Bowerbird (North Terrace)
- Water Circle (Sunken Garden)
- Upside Down (Rose Garden)
- Willow Dome (The High Place)
- Woodland Nests (Woodland Garden)
- Rookery (Pool Pavilion)
- Giant Nest (The Meadow)
On the Estate Trails you will find:
- Orchard Disk
- Redwood Colonnade
- Woodrat’s Flat
Materials utilized included:
- London Plane tree branches
- Arroyo Willow trees branches (from trees found along streams on the Estate Trail)
- A Yew tree (removed from the garden when it outgrew the space)
- Coyote brush branches (from Filoli’s woodlands)
- A Hornbeam tree (removed due to a fungal disease)
- Steel rings (from Filoli’s inoperative 100-year-old redwood water tanks)
- Nests (found in the trees)
- Fallen native oak trees
- Fallen fruit (from Filoli’s Gentleman’s Orchard)
- Redwood branches (from the Nature Preserve)
Visiting Filoli and viewing the W. Gary Smith environmental art exhibition was a delightful way to spend an afternoon.
To sum up, not only does Filoli have a series of varied fun events year-round, one can easily do a day trip to Filoli from Sacramento.
Do you know how Filoli was named? William Bourn, the creator and original owner of the estate, named Filoli utilizing the following “words to live by”:
“Fight for a just cause, Love your fellow man, Live a good life.”
Comments on Nest – Patterns from Nature or W. Gary Smith?
Have you viewed Nest – Patterns from Nature? What would you add? Have you had the opportunity to see other environmental art works created by W. Gary Smith?
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