Big Bugs to invade Green Animals in Portsmouth!

Sculptor David Rogers’ creations on display from June 25 to Oct. 3

Posted 6/22/21

PORTSMOUTH — Green Animals Topiary Garden will be buzzing this summer when David Rogers’ Big Bugs takes over from Friday, June 25, through Sunday, Oct. 3.

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Big Bugs to invade Green Animals in Portsmouth!

Sculptor David Rogers’ creations on display from June 25 to Oct. 3

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — Green Animals Topiary Garden will be buzzing this summer when David Rogers’ Big Bugs takes over from Friday, June 25, through Sunday, Oct. 3.

Even the garden’s 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 was closed Monday and Tuesday or this week to accommodate setup. Work on the exhibition was to continue Wednesday and Thursday, but with property open to visitors. 

“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, 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.”

Added Bill Tavares, the Society’s communications manager, “In the exhibit, the insects are the giants now and we’re little. It gives you a better impression of the relationship with nature.” He added that some children’s programs will be scheduled to coincide with the exhibit.

The 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. The 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,” Mr. Rogers 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.” 

Mr. Rogers first conceptualized the idea of the 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.

To get tickets

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 $20 per adult and $8 per youth (ages 6-17). 

Go to www.NewportMansions.org for more information and to purchase tickets. For more information about the artist and the exhibition, visit www.davidrogersbigbugs.com.

‘Something different to do’

Although David Rogers’ Big Bugs is the first major exhibit of its kind at Green Animals, the Preservation Society last year tried to bring something of a similar scale to the topiary garden.

In June 2020, the Society received approval from the Zoning Board of Review to host a “fall lantern display” in the gardens from October 2020 to January 2021. COVID-19 had other plans, however.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen with that now. That doesn’t mean it won’t,” Mr. Tavares said of the lighting display.

The Society’s efforts to bring exhibits to Green Animals represent a new strategy to get more visitors on the property.

“I think there’s more people who want to be outside," he said. "We have the picnics, but we’re exploring different ways to give people something different to do, as well as with some of the other things we offer.

“It’s such an iconic property.”

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.