Two giant leopard slugs slither around the main entrance to Tate Britain. Their bodies and trails glimmer with energy efficient blue and white LED lights. Creatures most people would consider to be an ugly nuisance have been transformed into something wondrous.
Monster Chetwynd was inspired by seeing leopard slugs mate on Life in the Undergrowth, a television documentary series by David Attenborough. The slugs slowly rotate together, dangling from the branch of a tree by a glittering rope of mucus. This night-time mating ritual reminds us that the darkness of winter can be a time of renewal and rebirth.
Scientists have recently developed lamps powered by bioluminescence (light produced by living organisms such as squid and fungi). Alternative energy interests Chetwynd, and she is excited by the idea that light-emitting organisms may one day power street lights. She wants the slugs, which are made from compostable materials, to be fun and to spark discussion about where we source our energy.
Previously known as Marvin Gaye Chetwynd and before that, Spartacus Chetwynd, Monster Chetwynd is best known for her irreverent and anarchic performances, paintings, sculptures and plays.
Chetwynd’s outdoor installation will be the second Winter Commission, following Alan Kane’s, Home for Christmas, in 2017.
Visit on the 15th December and enjoy our free Winter Fair for the perfect festive day out. There will be pop-up stalls, food, craft makers, live music and more.
Curated by Aïcha Mehrez