Bird baths and bee beaches invite nature to Marcel Breuer’s Marshouse

Bird baths and bee beaches invite nature to Marcel Breuer’s Marshouse

‘For the Birds & Bees’ (until 18 September 2021) by design gallery R & Company and landscape designer Edwina von Gal aims to bring back wildlife to Marcel Breuer’s Marshouse, and increase awareness on the importance of birds and pollinators

Landscape designer Edwina von Gal needs little introduction. Since setting up her eponymous landscape firm in 1984, the pioneering designer and environmentalist has worked with figures such as Frank Gehry, Maya Lin, Cindy Sherman and Calvin Klein to bring sustainable and nature-focused elements to their projects.

In 2013, von Gal established the Perfect Earth Project, a non-profit organisation dedicated to convincing homeowners and landscapers alike to stop using harsh chemicals on the land. Most of her experiments to achieve this were conducted at her own home – a 1974 house designed by Marcel Breuer and known as Marshouse, located in the Springs neighbourhood of East Hampton in New York. 

Bird baths and beaches for bees at Marcel Breuer’s Marshouse

A ceramic bird bath by Katie Stout photographed on the grass with trees in the background
Katie Stout’s ceramic bird bath

Iconic and yet forward thinking, Marshouse is currently home to an exhibition of specially commissioned sculptures curated by von Gal and the design gallery R & Company. Entitled ‘For the Birds & Bees’ the landscape installation (until 18 September 2021) features bird baths and bee beaches designed by six artists (Serban Ionescu, Katie Stout, Rogan Gregory, Hung-Chung Lee, Nancy Lorenz and Jean-Paul Philippe), and has been created to attract wildlife to the verdant surroundings of Marshouse.

The exhibition at the property (already a showcase for landscape models that focus on native plants, toxic-free practices and biomass management) also supports an initiative launched by von Gal and Perfect Earth Project, dubbed ‘Two Thirds for the Birds’, which seeks to restore native bird populations across the United States by changing the way gardening and landscaping is done. It’s thought that to maintain healthy populations, birds need at least 70 per cent of plants in their habitat to be native. If homeowners planted more native plants (say 12 native varieties to every three non-native) and stopped using pesticides, the bird species in the USA could be rehabilitated and thrive once again.

A small cement and brass fountain by Nancy Lorenz, round shape, on the grass
Nancy Lorenz, ‘For the Bees’, cement and brass

‘Bringing everyone together like this in the garden is such an ideal way to help us get our message out about the importance of habitat and toxic-free landscapes for saving our birds and pollinators,’ says von Gal, who selected each of the artists in the show. ‘It is a dream project working with R & Company’s great artists here in the Perfect Earth Garden. It’s a natural fit.’

Evan Synderman, co-founder of R & Company, adds, ‘It has been my long-time goal to collaborate on a project with Edwina. When you visit her home, you are immediately transported to another place and time. You remember a more simple period when nature prevailed and humans trod lightly. While Edwina and I may have arrived at the project from different perspectives – hers centring around the birds, and mine focusing on the artists – by bringing together these two worlds, a completely unique programme emerged: an exhibition that combines art, sculpture, garden design, ornithology, and conservation.’ §

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