Tia-Thuy Nguyen encapsulates an oak tree at Chateau La Coste with a ton of stainless steel strips
The ‘Flower of Life’ by Tia-Thuy Nguyen finds its home within the premises of the sculpture park and organic winery, Château La Coste, situated in Aix-en-Provence, France.
Tia-Thuy Nguyen, the Vietnamese artist, expresses her connection with Mother Earth through her creation of an intricate stainless-steel sculpture enveloping a lifeless oak tree on the grounds of Château La Coste. The project took shape after Irish hotelier and property magnate Paddy McKillen acquired the land in 2002.
This remarkable ‘tree art’ piece, named the Flower of Life, is crafted from thousands of soldered stainless steel strips, each 5mm thick, resembling bark. The sculpture also features shimmering steel oak leaves, as well as gemstone and crystal fruits and flowers. The assembly of this artwork, Nguyen’s first venture with the material (a ton of stainless steel), involved creating practice branches with local artisans in her Ho Chi Minh City studio to explore construction methods and techniques.
As a multidisciplinary artist working in painting, fashion (under the label Thuy Design House), and film, Nguyen sees no limitations in exploring new mediums. For her, the choice of material is a means of expressing ideas and channeling energy into a tangible form. The on-site installation required additional engineering, with an invisible support structure inserted to eventually replace the decaying tree. The oak, initially marked for removal by a tree surgeon, found a second life through Nguyen’s vision. She envisions the metal patina evolving over time with the influence of natural elements, signifying the collaboration between her creation and Mother Earth.
Installed at a central location amidst a roadway adjacent to upcoming inn-style rooms (set to open in 2024), Flower of Life radiates under the Provence light, creating a luminous spectacle. Château La Coste’s 600-acre sculpture park hosts numerous site-specific works by renowned artists, fostering a dialogue between art and the bucolic landscape that transitions from vineyards to plateaus, woodlands, and man-made lakes.
Nguyen’s association with Château La Coste began nine years ago when she visited the estate and was captivated by the twisted branches of the oak. Her friendship with Paddy McKillen, which originated during her student years, has resulted in several collaborative works, with Flower of Life being the latest addition.
While McKillen faces legal battles over the value of Maybourne, Château La Coste stands as a testament to his visionary endeavors. The estate, attracting over 100,000 visitors annually, combines art, nature, and organic viticulture to offer an enlightened hospitality experience. In 2023, McKillen was appointed the honorary consul of Vietnam in Dublin.
Nguyen’s prominence under McKillen’s spotlight has garnered new commissions and exhibitions, including a show at Almine Rech in Paris scheduled for January 2024. Beyond her artistic pursuits, Nguyen remains committed to nurturing the next generation of Vietnamese artists through initiatives like the Factory Contemporary Arts Centre in Ho Chi Minh City.
Experience the captivating Flower of Life at Château La Coste in Aix-en-Provence.
Visit for more information.