This is a departure from my normal blog content, as the name suggests the Sculpture Garden is more about the sculpture than the planting. I went with a friend who is also a garden designer, however he’s based in LA where they call themselves Landscaper Designers or Architects. We both worked together in online media, many moons ago, so it’s a real coincidence that we both ended up going the same job again, in an entirely different field.
It was a very enjoyable morning in late April, nattering about the differences in our jobs; due to the climate, attitudes of homeowners, labour laws, fashions etc. We both agreed drought tolerance and wildlife planting are going to be important considerations in our designs for the future, on both sides of the globe. Interestingly this summers’ northern hemisphere wide heatwave, has only confirmed those predictions.
We both wanted to see the sculpture garden, as choosing art can be a challenging part of a design brief for a garden designer. I see a lot of incongruous sculpture in magazines and shows like Chelsea, so we experience first-hand what worked best. The sculptures are set in woods, with a stream and weir, which is a lovely setting and as it was one of the first hot days of our very long summer, the shade was most welcome. I’d recommend going for that reason alone, what could be nicer than a stroll in the woods on a hot day. There’s no tearoom but you could spend a pleasant day there, if you pack your sarnies. They also have a couple of small dwells on the site you can hire for the night.
Bright ain’t Right
As you can see from the pictures many of the sculptures are very different in style however I will loosely group them. Tackling what I thought didn’t work first, so I can end on a high. On the whole, it was mostly the figurative and brightly coloured sculptures we didn’t go for.
Much as I’d love a marble bust, of some worthy nameless individual from yesteryear in my house…yup really. I just don’t like figurative sculpture in gardens, I find them old fashioned and some even reminded me of the horror movie Hellraiser, urgh! Unless there’s some humour in them I think I will steer clear, I refer you to my previous blog on Charleston Farm.
I feel brightly coloured sculpture can work but against an azure sky, with more colour in the garden. One day when I create my Luis Barragan inspired garden, it’s going to have a beautiful organic orange O’Keeffe style sculpture. What can I say I’m a dreamer…comes with the territory. However I also found this group of sculptures jarring within the woodland setting.
It Moved me
We both really liked the kinetic sculptures, our tastes veered towards the modern, mechanical movement which seem to bring dynamism to the space, plus watching them feels like meditation, very ‘in the moment’. I particularly liked the water based sculptures although a couple made me think of the nose cone from a tunneling machine breaking through the Earth’s crust, again I refer you to my over active imagination.
Oh the whole we both felt that the organic forms as a group worked in the Sculpture Garden, materials varied from green to white marble, wood, glass and metal and I do think the style of garden probably dictates the material that will work best within it. However one wants the sculptures to stand out, not blend into the garden, but acting harmoniously within it, so there’s no hard or fast rule.
A subset within the organic style sculptures, worth a separate mention, must be the functional but still beautiful category, of honed wooden benches, which were oh so much more than just somewhere to sit.
However the favourite and we both agreed on this, was the bicycle bell sculpture by Ronald van der Meijis ‘Sound Architecture 5’. It ticked so many boxes; using 5000 recycled objects, shinning out in the shade under an oak tree, hugging and enhancing the landscape so perfectly. Plus being kinetic it makes a tinkling sound in the wind, catching the light and thus changing through the day. The artist purposely chose an oak tree, so in autumn the acorns will fall creating music as they hit the bells, over all very unexpectedly beautiful.
Most of the works in the sculpture garden are for sale so if you are tempted after reading this blog you can contact the gallery, prices range from a few thousand to if you have to ask you can’t afford it!