Art in the GardenAlison Marsden
This blog is a little different from most of my previous posts as I am not strictly writing about gardening but about a whole other aspect of garden enjoyment: Art, and primarily sculpture, in the garden. I should make it clear right at the start that I am no expert here, but I am a gardener interested in anything that encourages people into the great outdoors.
Many years ago I heard a well-known television gardening presenter say that ”no garden is too small for a piece of garden statuary”. At the time, with a small cottagey garden, the idea of adding a couple of Roman style statues did not appeal. But the phrase stuck with me and I now appreciate that there are many choices of garden ornament and reasons to include them in a design. The simplest, and where many of us start, is to use an ornament to emphasise a garden style: a stone lantern in an oriental garden, a piece of driftwood in a seaside style garden.
More and more gardens open to the public are including sculptures carefully placed to enhance both the piece and the landscape. Possibly the installation that received most media coverage in the South East has been the huge sculpture of the head of a horse bending down to drink at RHS Wisley in Surrey. Public reactions were mixed but surely this is part of the objective of art? Like planting schemes, not everyone will like every offering and some are intended to make us think not just enjoy.
This summer I visited two gardens fairly local to me with very different sculpture exhibitions and become conscious of the dimension this adds to the space. At Pashley Manor Gardens I admired sculptures by a range of artists surrounded by the late summer fullness of rose and herbaceous planting. At Leonardslee Lakes & Gardens I walked a trail of sculptures by a single artist, some of monumental size, reflecting his experiences and the people he has met. I have to say that not all the pieces were ‘lovely’ but that was not the intention, and all were powerful and thought provoking.
I shall be seeking out more Art in the garden exhibitions next year and encourage any other ‘newbies’ to do the same. After all it is another excuse to visit gardens!
Happy Gardening from Alison
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