Chanel debuts high jewellery collection with fields of gold at Marina

Known as "the wheat man" in France, artist Gad Weil (above) has set up his installation in Saumur and Taipei.
Known as "the wheat man" in France, artist Gad Weil (above) has set up his installation in Saumur and Taipei.

French street artist Gad Weil's art installation features 250,000 wheat stalks painted in gold and bronze

A wheat field has sprouted in Singapore's Central Business District.

French street artist Gad Weil has created an art installation, Bles Vendome (Bles means wheat in French, while Vendome is a town in central France where the artwork was first created), an urban field of 250,000 wheat stalks in multiple tiers, at Marina Bay Sands' event plaza.

The 2,690 sq ft artwork, created in partnership with French fashion label Chanel, is launching here in tandem with the Singapore debut of the luxury brand's high jewellery collection, Les Bles de Chanel.

Inspired by wheat, the collection includes an 18K white gold necklace set with close to 500 diamonds in the shape of a sheaf of wheat and an 18K white gold bracelet - made with peridots, green tourmalines and diamonds - resembling two interlocking stalks of wheat.

The entire collection has more than 60 pieces, 47 of which will be shown in Singapore.

Wheat was one of fashion designer Gabrielle Chanel's favourite motifs. The late designer was known to have paintings and ornaments featuring the grass around her home and various apartments.

Speaking to The Straits Times yesterday, Weil says he hopes that people who walk through the field will leave curious and pondering the contrast of the piece.

"When people see it, they might be surprised at first. But then there will be curiosity and, I hope, happiness," says the 57-year-old.

"There is a dialogue between the nature of the installation and the urban environment it has been set in. I hope people think about sustainability, agriculture and nature."

This is not the first time Weil has launched such an installation.

Known as "the wheat man" in France, he first created La Grande Moisson (which means The Great Harvest in French) - a wheat field spanning nearly 2ha - at the Champs-Elysees in Paris in 1990.

In 2016, after a chance meeting with representatives of Chanel, he recognised the commonality that the label's wheat-inspired collection had with his art.

He then went on to collaborate with the high-fashion brand to create Bles Vendome.

That same year, the piece was installed at the Place Vendome in Paris, coinciding with the debut of Les Bles de Chanel.

He has also set up the installation in Saumur, France, and in Taipei.

The wheat used to create the artwork here was shipped in from Spain. The project involved 100 people, in France and Singapore, including farmers, painters and art students, and took about four months of preparation.

Weil says that to reduce waste, he chose to use decorative wheat - the type commonly seen in floral arrangements - rather than the food grain. The stalks are painted in two shades of gold and one shade of bronze to create a dynamic flow and give life to the piece.

"I want people in Singapore to come here and see and smell the wheat and be happy. I want them to walk away questioning where their food comes from and how it grows."

The Bles Vendome wheat field installation will be at the event plaza of Marina Bay Sands until Thursday.

The Les Bles de Chanel collection is for sale at a by-invitation-only exhibition at the ArtScience Museum from Monday to Wednesday.

Following which, it will be sold at selected Chanel boutiques from Friday to March 31.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2018, with the headline 'Fields of gold at Marina'. Print Edition | Subscribe