David Wong's 25 years of collaboration with Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria
Since 1998, David Wong has been at the forefront of combining art, design and nature at the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria.
The Brunswick-based artist has contributed to the design and construction of several flower displays, mosaics, seats and monuments across both Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne and Cranbourne.
His work with RBGV came about when close friend and Melbourne Gardens Landscape Architect, Andrew Laidlaw, reached out to recruit his creativity.
Over 25 years later, this creative partnership prospers.
“It’s a gift to me from working with the people in the gardens and with material from the gardens itself”, David said.
One meaningful project of David’s was the construction of Fern Gully's Bird’s Nest.
“We had a donation from two people who had passed away, and in commemoration they wanted something left behind that resembled birds and nests”.
Hence, David developed an idea inspired by the combination of a chrysalis, a beaver damn and of course, a bird’s nest. Then came the reimagination of an egg shape spiral into the suspended steel swing to form an enclosure within the natural surroundings.
His most recent work featured is the mosaic piece which sits beneath the newly reconstructed Tecoma Gate. Implementing an ancient Roman feel to the entrance, David sourced tesserae glass from Venice, the same glass found in mosaics artworks of Pompeii.
At the other end of the spectrum, one of his oldest works includes the spiralling rose climbing frames perched within the Climate Ready Rose Collection.
However, The Ian Potter Children’s remains David’s most significant work to date.
“Together with a team of five from the gardens, we designed, I believe a world first in terms of how children interact with plants”.
The mosaic entrance he designed remains a daily reminder to visitors of David’s contribution in establishing a garden he believes is for “kids (aged) from 0 to 99”.
David was a key cog in planning the RBGV exhibition featured at the 2000 Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show.
The exhibition aimed to petition state government funding for the proposed Australian Garden at Cranbourne Gardens by showcasing Australian plants. To emphasise this, David developed an idea of layering native materials similar to that of strata-like formations seen at a famous Victorian landmark, the Twelve Apostles.
The exhibition would later be moved to both Melbourne and Cranbourne Gardens, including outside the Melbourne Gardens Visitor Centre.
Only a few years later in 2006, this proposal became a reality at the opening of the Australian Garden, reportedly attended by 10,000-15,000 people including Premier Steve Bracks.
David’s legacy as an artist will live on for generations, however he remains forever grateful to those who made his work possible.
“We are lucky to have very generous donors who fund new projects here. All lasting monuments to benefit the City of Melbourne and the whole of Victoria”.