Artist: Andrea Greenlees

TRASPARENZA, Temple of Transparency, celebrates emerging from darkness into light. This transparent installation is a playful and light-hearted foray into fifteenth century Florence, a whimsical tribute to the genius of Leonardo and the glories of the Italian Renaissance. After the plague came the renaissance, the coronavirus pandemic could trigger a new renaissance. As we emerge from this period of relative darkness, we are able to recognise the signs of change and growth: celebration, grief, protest, recognition. This work invites the viewer to walk inside and around the filigree walls, palace-like and celebratory of success and positive change.

This ‘Florentine Folly’ was originally conceived and created for Burning Man 2016, for which the theme was ‘Da Vinci’s Workshop’. The structure is totally transparent, made of clear cast acrylic panels (Perspex) digitally laser-cut with intricate detail. A humanist chapel celebrating human ingenuity and creativity, and the artist as inventor, the installation is interactive in the most fundamental sense as visitors literally enter it and become part of it. Their presence and activity inside transform TRASPARENZA into a performance artwork. Entering the installation enables visitors to experience art in a new and unexpected way. They may be moved to create their own personal ceremonies within its crystal walls. Visitors are enclosed but exposed, the space inside is intimate but revealing. They become participants, engaged with the art and with each other. Most of all TRASPARENZA is intended to inspire wonder and delight, surprising participants with the absurd and incongruous beauty of a transparent chapel, digitally designed and fabricated. It is uplifting, accessible, celebratory and fun.

In appearance the structure resembles a sparkling crystal crown formed of ten turreted triangular towers, connected in a circular plan, with an arched doorway. From a distance a mysterious, shimmering presence, up close the inner structure of the installation and the mechanics of its assembly are laid bare. The laser-cut imagery of the lower panels represents the heraldic emblems of the Master Guilds of Florence, and a Medici coat of arms represents philanthropy and patronage, upon which artists have long depended. The motifs on the inner walls illustrate Leonardo’s lifelong preoccupations including geometry, architecture, engineering, hydrodynamics, aerodynamics, anatomy, painting and drawing. The arch through which visitors enter and leave features Latin inscriptions. Lining the outer arch are the words ‘PULCHRITUDO EST ALIQUID INCORPOREUM’ (Plato), loosely translated as ‘beauty is an ethereal thing’. TRASPARENZA considers the fleeting nature of beauty, in ourselves and in what we make. The words ‘SAPER VEDERE’, meaning knowing how to see, are inscribed around the inner arch. This phrase features repeatedly in the Codici, Leonardo’s notebooks, and is the expression he used to describe the dominant skill of his own genius.

Artist, philosopher, scientist, engineer and inventor, Da Vinci studied and documented natural phenomena of every kind to access what he regarded as the great machinery of nature. In his pioneering anatomical studies of organs, muscles, sinews and bones, he sought not merely to record their physical appearance but to understand their mechanical function. He studied the movement of blood through veins, the wings of birds in flight, the motion of waves and whirlpools, and the trajectory of the planets, applying his discoveries to an extraordinary range of inventions from parachutes to submarines, bicycles to armoured tanks. TRASPARENZA celebrates creative endeavour and intellectual inquiry by referencing this creative genius in a Florentine Folly made of an unexpected, intriguing and contemporary material.



Sheep crest/coat of arms = Wool Guild = ARTE DELLA LANA

Eagle and bales of cloth crest/coat of arms = Cloth Merchants Guild = ARTE DELLA CALIMALA

Door crest/coat of arms = Silk Guild = ARTE DELLA SETA

Goat and cherubs crest/coat of arms = Guild of Butchers and Graziers = ARTE DEI BECCAI

Tools crest/coat of arms = Guild of Stonemasons and Woodcarvers = ARTE DEI MAESTRI DI PIETRA E LEGNAME


Andrea is a London-based multi-faceted artist and designer creating a wide range of artwork in a variety of media and materials, specialising in large-scale installations for public spaces.

Photos by Kim Atkin

Location: Walled Garden

 #TransformativeArt #Transparenza #Andrea Greenlees

TRASPARENZA in the Desert