Somerset House’s main courtyard has been filled with trees until the end of the month, breaking a long-held rule that trees should never be seen in the courtyard. It’s all part of the London Design Biennale, which sees the rooms in Somerset House filled with 30 exhibitions from 30 countries.
The most striking display is in the central courtyard, where a small woodland of 400 trees have been placed with paths weaving between them. Look for the labels that say what each tree is and its significance, and the small stones on the ground with messages.
It’s one of those “on paper won’t make sense” ideas as it’s a very small wood of the sort you can reasonably find on any countryside walk, but in some curious way, putting it right here in, surrounded by the grand buildings you can see poking over the top just seems to work.
Inside the buildings, rooms have been given over to the art – some of it is very much the sort of art you would expect from that particular country, and others are, frankly, a more than a little baffling.
There’s a fixed one-way route around, so you have to take it all in on a visit – there’s no skipping anything. It’s almost too big a collection of displays as there’s a lot to see, some of it you look and read, a few are interactive.
Do bring a rubber band though, as there’s a wonderful “tube map” in one room all about the design of spoons, and copies are offered to visitors to take away with them.
The London Design Biennale runs until 27th June and tickets need to be booked in advance, from here.