A large scale installation in the Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court at Somerset House by artist Zheng Bo features a forest of varying types of bamboo. Photo by Dave Parry

Zheng Bo: Bamboo as Method

22 Feb - 28 Apr 2024
Edmond J. Safra
Fountain Court

A large scale new commission from Hong-Kong based artist Zheng Bo, transforming Somerset House’s courtyard into a bamboo garden.

This site specific and participatory installation creates a place for contemplation and serves as a reminder of the restorative qualities of nature within the urban landscape of Somerset House and central London. Zheng’s commission will be the newest addition to the annual Somerset House Courtyard Commission Series which features international, contemporary artists who exemplify innovative thinking across sustainability and ecology. 

Responding to the neo-classical architecture surrounding the courtyard, Zheng Bo invites visitors to temporarily disconnect from their fast-paced, hyper-connected everyday lives by immersing themselves in the biosphere that surrounds us and by taking up the activity of drawing. Participants will select bamboo leaves from a variety of species chosen by the artist as the subjects of their illustrations, and once completed these are deposited for decomposition to fertilise the garden, completing a loop of creativity and ecology. Zheng Bo’s commission, as with their overall practice, is aimed at breaking down the boundaries between humans and nature, asking what we can learn from nature when we slow down and take the time to reflect.  

The artwork’s title Bamboo as Method 格竹 pays homage to the Ming Dynasty thinker and scholar, Wang Yangming. Wang’s pursuit of enlightenment through the practice of gewu zhizhi (the acquisition of knowledge through the investigation of the nature of things) is encapsulated in Zheng Bo’s profound reference.

Listen to Zheng Bo’s introductory thoughts on drawing and bamboo. 

Join us for Morgan Stanley Lates on Wed 10 April for after-hours access to Bamboo As Method.