Green Animals Topiary Garden will be buzzing this summer when David Rogers’ Big Bugs takes over from Friday, June 25, through Sunday, October 3.
Even the famous green giraffe will be looking up at some of these gargantuan visitors!
Showcasing pollinators and other bugs on a massive scale, the David Rogers’ Big Bugs exhibition includes a 10-foot-tall Daddy Long Legs weighing 600 pounds, an 18-foot-long Praying Mantis weighing 1,200 pounds, a 10-foot-long Damselfly and an array of other massive creatures – nine total – placed in various locations around Green Animals. There will also be a colossal butterfly with a 5-foot wingspan in The Breakers Welcome Center.
Green Animals will be closed June 21-22 to accommodate setup. Work on the exhibition will continue June 23-24, but the property will be open to visitors. There will be no access to areas where work on sculptures is taking place. The exhibition is scheduled to be fully open June 25.
“We have never hosted anything like this before, but Green Animals is the perfect setting for this unique exhibition,” said Trudy Coxe, CEO and Executive Director of The Preservation Society of Newport County in a statement, which owns the topiary garden. “People are going to be amazed when they see what David has created. The size and detail are just stunning. We cannot wait to share this with our visitors.”
These sculptures are created with various combinations of found or fallen trees, cut green saplings selectively harvested from the willow family, dry branches, and other sustainable forest materials. This work is one part landscape art, one part recycled art and two parts environmental art.
“When I go out into the forest, I am looking for shapes, colors, and textures,” David says of his process. “The inherent uniqueness of these materials, their different shapes, colors and textures, provide these sculptures with character, definition and a sense of motion.”
Admission to David Rogers’ Big Bugs is included with the Preservation Society’s Stroll the Gardens & Grounds ticket, which includes two other properties and allows visitors to picnic on the grounds. Stroll the Gardens & Grounds tickets are $18 per adult and $8 per youth (ages 6-17). Go to www.NewportMansions.org for more information and to purchase tickets.
About David Rogers
Born on Long Island in 1960, David Rogers learned to weld at the age of 13. By 15, he was experimenting with found forest materials, using dry branches and rope-lashing techniques to assemble various abstract structures. At this early stage, he had already steel-welded his first insect dragonfly and housefly.
He would go on to apprentice with a builder/restorer of wooden sailboats and cabinets, work as a house carpenter on historic Victorian-age homes and do stints as a cabdriver, magician’s assistant, actor in Shakespeare summer stock, and sailboat-delivery crew member on the eastern seaboard.
With a devotion to rustic design and all-natural materials, he began constructing various styles of rustic furnishings and garden structures employing different kinds of trees and techniques. He developed a very ornate bent-sapling construction style named “Victorian Rustic.”
In the fall of 1990, while staying on a cousin’s farm in Vermont’s Green Mountains, he encountered a maple sapling bent over from previous winter’s ice storm. As he explains on his website: “There was something about the curvature and posture of this particularly ravaged tree – a backbone to a large beast, perhaps that suggested a new life for the tree. Using dried branches and different varieties of tree saplings a “dinosaur” sculpture emerged in twelve inspired days.”
He first conceptualized the idea of the David Rogers’ Big Bugs exhibition in 1991. He built 10 sculptures and had his first show at the Dallas Arboretum in the summer of 1994. He has now exhibited in 40 states and there are currently 40 sculptures in the collection.
For more information about the artist and the exhibition, visit www.davidrogersbigbugs.com.
About Green Animals
Located in Portsmouth, R.I., Green Animals Topiary Garden is the oldest and most northern topiary garden in the United States. In addition to more than 80 topiaries in the shape of animals and geometric designs, it is home to a remarkable array of flowering bulbs, perennials, annuals and shrubs that bloom colorfully throughout the spring, summer and fall. In 2019, Green Animals was recognized as one of just 28 official Daffodil Display Gardens in the United States – and one of only three in New England – by the American Daffodil Society.
The Preservation Society of Newport County, Rhode Island, is a nonprofit organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and dedicated to preserving and interpreting the area’s historic architecture, landscapes, decorative arts and social history. Its 11 historic properties – seven of them National Historic Landmarks – span more than 250 years of American architectural and social development.
For more information, please visit NewportMansions.org.