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Kew Gardens
Photograph: Designed by Andrew Parker, 2017 © Lifescaped

Kew Gardens is bringing you ‘the brightest colours ever’

Kew’s new exhibit is all about the vivid, spectacular colours of the natural world. And it has a giant kaleidoscope

Written by
Katie McCabe
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Have you ever looked at the iridescent colours on the wings of a butterfly and thought: ‘how can I recreate that?’ Well, there is a way, and it involves a new technology called Pure Structural Colour, a method developed by scientific researchers at Lifescaped lab that can synthetically produce any shade of colour in its most vivid form using transparent materials.

The technology is at the centre of Kew Gardens’ upcoming exhibition ‘Naturally Brilliant Colour’ which will feature artworks created using Pure Structural Colour. The curators at Kew aren’t holding back, and are making some big promises for the show, including a chance to see the ‘brightest colours ever to have been created’, a giant kaleidoscope and an evolutionary journey through vision and colour that will chart back through a tidy 500 million years. 

Aside from showboating a new technology, the ‘Naturally Brilliant Colour’ exhibition will feature artwork from botanical artist Robert John Thornton (1768-1837) and contemporary artist Julia Trickey. The exhibition will also include the ‘first botanical artwork to accurately reproduce natural  structural colour’, courtesy of artist Coral G Guest, who created her piece by mixing flakes of Pure Structural Colour into paint. 

Apparently this Pure Structural Colour business has to be seen to be believed. It can replicate the hue of rare plants and beetle shells, presenting new opportunities in fashion and design. ‘Scientists have sought to reproduce the brightest, metallic-like colours of nature for decades’, says Andrew Parker, director of Lifescaped, ‘It is something special to witness these colours as they emerge from our machines – the brightest colours ever seen.’

Things have been pretty grey lately, so a kaleidoscopic eyeful of the brightest colours on earth might be just what we need.

Naturally Brilliant Colour will run at the at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art in Kew Gardens from May 17-Sep 26. From £17.50. Find out more here

Can’t wait until May? Here are the London galleries you can visit right now

While you’re at it, here’s more stuff to do this month.

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