French wheat fields are trending these days. Google it and you might end up with headlines of a certain Chinese tycoon splurging on them. Closer to home, there’s a more artistic slant to the topic. If you happen to be at the event plaza of The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands from last weekend, you might have gotten a whiff of the sweet scent of the grass permeating the air.
That rustic touch comes from the public art installation that Chanel has launched with French street artist Gad Weil. The event, which runs from now till Mar 1, sees the man who is popularly known as “L’homme du ble” in his home country transforming the outdoor deck facing the Marina Bay skyline into a makeshift — an very Insta-genic — wheat field. Here, we highlight what to know about this masterpiece dubbed Bles Vendome.
#1: For starters, say “blay” (it rhymes with play) and “vun-dome”. Bles is French for wheat, while, Vendome is a nod to the first location of the installation back in 2016 — Paris’ Place Vendome square in the First Arrondissement.
#2: The artwork is the third instalment of Weil’s art-meets-vegetal series called Nature Capitale which seeks to transport nature to urban cities.
#3: The 57-year-old artist teams up with the jewellery folks from Chanel for this outing. The brand has close links to Place Vendome. Besides having a fine jewellery boutique there, Gabrielle Chanel also called the area’s famed Paris Ritz her second home.
#4: The exhibition celebrates the wheat-inspired Les Bles de Chanel high jewellery collection which was launched in 2016 and is in Singapore for the first time as part of a travelling exhibition of 47 unique designs. FYI: Chanel’s dad used to call her “my good wheat”.
#5: Weil has a long history of working with wheat. In 1990, he transformed the Champs-Elysees into a giant field of fresh wheat that spanned almost two hectares.
#6: Singapore is the fourth stop of the Bles Vendome exhibition. Besides Place Vendome, the installation has popped up in Saumur in western France (Gabrielle Chanel’s birth city) and Taipei.
#7: The installation is made up of three main ingredients: wheat, wood and sand. The wheat is displayed in wooden boxes (a total of 128 metres of wood used) that are stacked along the steps of the Event Plaza outside The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.
#8: A total of 250,000 pieces of wheat, weighing 750kg, were shipped from Spain for the exhibition. Everything was assembled from scratch at the location over a period of two days. The original Place Vendome installation used wheat sourced from the southern Italian region of Puglia.
#9: It took 100 people, including, farmers, painters, art schools, and students a total of four months to complete the Singapore leg of the installation.
#10: Three types of paint colour were used to create the gilded nuances of wheat basking under the sun. The first is a rich warm gold while another is gold mixed with aluminium for a glistening look. The last is a bronze colour which Weil used for depth.
#11: According to Weil, the takeaway from the installation is a lesson in respecting nature. “I want to remind everyone how much the human spirit, when acting with respect and care, understands how to interact with nature, drawing from it inspiration to nourish and embellish mankind.”
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