Weaving the world: Heathrow unveils Botanical Tapestry

Travelers set to depart from London Heathrow Terminal 2 over the summer holidays are in for a treat as Heathrow and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew today unveil a unique, hand-made 12 metre squared Botanical Tapestry, depicting global flora in intricate and colorful detail.

The botanical installation has been created to celebrate the partnership between Heathrow and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and marks the milestone of £25,000 raised from the exclusive sustainable shopping bag launched last November, raising money for Kew’s work on conserving the world’s plant life.

The woven structure, designed, developed and assembled by textile artist Vanessa Barragao, takes inspiration from the globe’s natural ecosystems and features six plants from some of Heathrow’s most popular destinations and key areas of conservation for Kew including; Maidenhair tree and Bulbophyllum Orchid from China and Indonesia, Coffee and Cola from Africa, and Lady’s Slipper Orchid and Pasqueflower from Europe.

The partnership between Heathrow and Kew is a natural union, with Kew scientists frequently travelling through the airport as part of their work to preserve threatened species of international plants. Much of the travel scientists undertake also helps Kew with research conservation for endangered populations of species, with samples arriving in the U.K from overseas destinations.

Vanessa’s hand-made creation took more than 520 hours to weave, weighs around 40kg, and measures 12m2. Commenting on the tapestry, developed using 8kg of jute and cotton and 42kg of recycled wool, Vanessa Barragao said: “I hope that people enjoy getting up close and personal with the tapestry in Heathrow as they head off on their summer holidays and I’m looking forward to seeing their reactions to this installation. It’s been great to learn about the work Kew carries out and discover more about the important conservation of plants and fungi.”

Ross Baker, Chief Commercial Officer at Heathrow, says: “The exclusive sustainable shopping bag has been hugely popular with our passengers, raising £25,000 to support Kew’s science work as a global resource for plant and fungal knowledge. We hope the Botanical Tapestry delights and informs travelers on the breadth of destinations that Kew operates in, often via Heathrow.”

Director of Marketing and Commercial Enterprise at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Sandra Botterell, said: “Our partnership with Heathrow is vital as our scientists regularly travel overseas through the airport, collecting seeds to send or bring back to the conservation vaults at the Millennium Seedbank. We hope the sustainable shopping bag launched last year and the Botanical Tapestry highlight a small part of what we do in building an understanding of the world’s plants and fungi.”

The Botanical Tapestry is in Heathrow Terminal 2 from Wednesday 17 July for six weeks before being moved to a permanent location in the terminal. Themed craft sessions for kids and adults alike will be available over the holidays and travellers in all terminals can also enjoy botanical inspired cocktails at select restaurants.

In further celebration of the partnership, Heathrow Rewards members will have the chance to win prizes including annual passes to Kew Gardens and tickets to the Chihuly: Reflections exhibition.