No, this image isn’t a still from a B-Movie (though there’s a great idea for a blog!) it’s a fantastical, larger than life sculpture by the late, great Louise Bourgeois.
Nature has always been a great inspiration to artists, and though some may be terrified or awe-inspired by super sized insects and spiders there is something deeply fascinating about them.
Tate acquired Bougeoise’s celebrated sculpture of a giant female spider, Maman (1999) in 2008.
Maman, which stands more than nine metres high, is a unique steel and marble sculpture from which an edition of six bronzes were subsequently cast by the artist. It first made an appearance as part of Bourgeois’s inaugural commission for The Unilever Series for Tate Modern’s vast Turbine Hall in 2000. Louise Bourgeois retrospective ran from 2007-2008 and proved to be one of the most popular exhibitions of sculpture at Tate.
Maman is the largest Spider sculpture ever made by Bourgeois. This spectacular arachnid alludes to the strength of the mother with metaphors of spinning, weaving, nurture and protection.
Bronze casts of Maman are on permanent display at The Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul, Korea, MoriArtCenter, Tokyo, Japan and the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Canada.
In February 2010 Colombian artist Rafael Gomez Barros, coverered the National Congress’ facade in Bogota, Colombia with ants.
According to the artist the ants symbolize the people displaced by the continuing armed conflict in Colombia.
Over 1.3 million people visited the insect expo at Hampyeong in South Korea. They mainly flocked there to see the beautiful butterflies but the huge sculptures of dung beetles and ladybirds were quite literally unmissable. Buildings were built in the shape of insect larvae and over 20 large exhibits celebrated insect. In short, an entomologists dream holiday!
Ladybirds eat aphids and are good for the garden. The invasive Harlequins are not good news as they eat ladybird eggs, which has resulted in a decline of the ladybird.
Beetle, Bristol, UK
This bronze on limestone sculpture (2000) by Nicola Hicks lies outside Bristol Aquarium in Anchor square. Beetle was inspired by the Rhinoceros Beetle – one of the world’s strongest creatures which can support up to 850 times its own weight on it’s back. Nicola Hicks is one of Britain’s most respected sculptors of animals – but she does not produce simple representations. Instead her pieces contain the power of the beast – belonging to a tradition of animal representation that stems right back to prehistoric caves.
The Gresham Grasshopper
The big Gresham Grasshopper can be seen on the London Royal Exchange’s weathervane. This commemorates the founder, Sir Thomas Gresham, whose crest was the grasshopper. According to an ancient legend of the Greshams, the founder of the family, Roger de Gresham, was a foundling abandoned as a new-born baby in long grass in North Norfolk in the 13th century and found there by a woman whose attention was drawn to the child by a grasshopper.
Sir John Gresham (1495 – 23 October 1556) was an English merchant, courtier and financier who worked for King Henry VIII of England, Cardinal Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell. He was Lord Mayor of London. Gresham’s original Royal Exchange building (destroyed in the Great Fire of London of 1666) was profusely decorated with grasshoppers.
In the system of English heraldry, the grasshopper is said to represent wisdom and nobility.
Giant Ants, Rio Grande Botanic Garden, New Mexico
Rio Grande Botanic Garden is a scent-filled haven in a trio of walled gardens and insects.
For the kids, the Children’s Fantasy Garden offers a very LARGE perspective on the world of gardening and horticulture. Kids can experience life from a mite’s eye inside the garden: ride the ants sculptures, walk through the carrots, play inside a 42 foot pumpkin climb a potato, and listen to the buzzing of a bee. Giant rakes, hoes and watering cans are tools used to tend huge potatoes, onions and carrots only Superman could lift. Huge bees pollinate enormous flowers, and six-foot earthworms burrow through soil. And if that’s not fun enough, there’s a two story high caterpillar! There’s also a PNM Butterfly Pavilion which is open during the summer.
This super-sized hanging cockroach sculpture by Catherine Chalmers was part of a photo and video exhibition of cockroach ”executions” at Rare, a NY Chelsea gallery in 2003. ”I want to get out of humanness,” Ms. Chalmers told the New York Times, ”to imagine life as a cockroach, to explore the world with long feelers.” Why depict them dying by hanging, burning and electrocution? Because, she said, it is only when you show the cockroaches dying the way humans do that humans are drawn into the story.
This eye-catching bronze sculpture is one of three created by Gay Staab in 2009. The bronze is located at the National Insect Geographic gallery in Washington DC.
The Chrysina beetle is also known as a dung beetle or scarab and was worshipped by the ancient Egyptians as an embodiment of the god Khepri.
The other sculptures at the museum are a praying mantis and three beautiful leaf cutting ants.