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Kabuki Reveal for Paul Cummins Sculpture at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

We installed a kabuki drop system to unveil Paul Cummins latest sculpture to the national press and her Majesty the Queen at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2015, 18th May.

Well known for the now-iconic Tower of London poppy installation, Paul Cummins developed the floral theme further for the 8m high sculpture, which is covered in thousands of hand-painted ceramic tulips. Hidden from view by a large cylindrical drape, the sculpture was revealed to the crowds by Paul himself as he pressed the ‘go’ button to release the kabuki and drape.

Chelsea Flower Show Paul CUmmins 1

We were contracted by RHS head of shows, Nick Mattingley, to design and build the system. Our Installation Technician Ian Moody led the project and oversaw the all-important drop itself.

He said: “We loaded in the kabuki system six days before the show. There were two reveals on the Monday; one for the press and one for The Queen. We needed to be able to re-build quickly in-between the drops.

“We designed and installed a solenoid kabuki system; a three meter truss circle with four Prostar Motors and an 11m high (110m2) cylindrical drape made of white satin. This shielded the sculpture from view until organisers were ready for the big reveal.”

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Chelsea Flower Show Paul CUmmins 6

The sculpture was revealed to the press at 1pm on Monday 18th May, with mainstream print, TV and radio press in attendance. After the press reveal, the motors allowed us to seamlessly lower the truss circle and reattach the drape, before raising it back into place for The Queen’s reveal later that day.

RHS head of shows, Nick Mattingley, said: “We were thrilled that the RHS Chelsea Flower Show was chosen to stage Paul’s first major work since his poppy installation. The sculpture was a fantastic addition to this year’s event and provided a focus for the show’s opening.

“We wanted to keep the sculpture shielded from the public eye. A kabuki system was ideal for this and also added a touch of drama for the official reveal. I have a long-standing relationship with Blackout and they were ideal for the job.”

Blackout Director, Chris Brain, said: “We were very proud to be chosen for the reveal of Paul’s latest art installation, and also to work once again with Nick Mattingley. A kabuki is a quick, cost-effective way to add intrigue to an event.”

Paul Cummins’s 2014 installation, which consisted of 888,246 ceramic poppies filling the moat of the Tower of London, hit headlines across the world last year. The poignant installation marked 100 years since the first day of Britain’s involvement in the First World War.

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Chelsea Flower Show Paul CUmmins 2

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