Hubert Burda Media

Barnaby Hosking: Shadow Play

A creative play between reflection and shadow, Barnaby Hosking's latest art installation, Birds & Butterflies, takes full flight within the luxurious interior of The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur.

Barnaby Hosking is a London-based, Norwich-born artist and sculptor. His work is internationally recognised for their originality, bringing together the rigorous formalism of minimalist art with the subject matter of a personal and emotional nature. With an MA in Sculpture from Royal College of Art in London and a BA in Fine Arts from City and Guilds of London Art School, Hosking only started getting international accolades for his work in 2003, when he won the Crédit Suisse Bank Prize and The National Grid Transco Award.

Though this talented artist has had his work exhibited at York Art Gallery in York, U.K., the Royal Academy in London, Art Basel in Switzerland and Almine Rech Gallery in Paris since his debut, Hosking finally made a hallmark for himself when he was given the privilege to create a masterpiece for St. Regis’, one of the world’s most exceptional and luxurious hospitality brands, latest establishment – The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur.

First approached by Carmen Chua, CEO of ONE IFC Sdn Bhd, the developer and owner of The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur, in 2011, Hosking has never set foot in the Lake Gardens of Kuala Lumpur, which is not only situated in the Heritage Park of the city but also close to the newly established hotel. “The remnant of the commission was to use inspiration from the park. I did some research on the location and decided to model my work after the butterflies and birds found in that specific area,” he explains. While the birds wings are constructed with the native red-bearded bee-eater in mind, the butterfly wings come in various shapes and sizes, signifying the diverse species found at the Butterfly Park.

From his past work, it was obvious that Hosking delights in materials, allowing the intense involvement and connection with the medium of art to unravel through its own materiality. Through the minimal use of metal in his sculptures and the subtle engagement with lighting techniques, there is no doubt that he gives equal importance to both the process and subject. “I’ll have to admit that it is increasingly hard to contextualise such a lonesome endeavour in a communication-driven world. However, I still value the idea that one can be alone in a particular place and can still feel and appreciate the beauty,” he says.

Taking no credits, Hosking informs that the three-dimensional installation is a collaborative effort, whereby he and his team of professional art installers from Singapore scaled numerous levels of scaffolding to arrange a total of 300 of the gold-plated metal wings along the 20 x 30-sqm banquet escalator wall, stretching from the main entrance of the hotel to its banquet hall at Level 3. Apart from that, he also had to work closely with the interior designers beforehand to specify the angle of the lenses and the position of the halogen spotlights to make the whole piece a success; the proportion and precision are all coordinated to meet Hosking’s vision.

“Each individual piece is inserted into the wall so that it sticks out before the spotlight shines on it. The resulting reflection and shadow give the birds and butterflies their whole figure on the wall. Also, some incidental clashes were added to make the entire flight motion look natural,” he explains. To start off with, Hosking began at the base, completing the whole space loosely before heading up to the grand ballroom and slowly working his way down, tightening up towards the middle to create the desired burst of life finale at the top. The resulting work embodies a mix of silence and tranquillity, with the presence of the artist and his intention – a sense of freedom in mind and spirit – both implied and removed.