A stunning new outdoor sculpture exhibition is now open to the public at Borde Hill Gardens, Haywards Heath.
The Borde Hill owners, along with some of the artists and other VIPs, launched the display on Thursday, May 9, at a special preview event.
The art trail runs until September 30 and features more than 100 pieces in bronze, stone, metal, ceramic, glass and a variety of other materials.
Visitors can see large kinetic wind sculptures, mythological figures, ornate insects, majestic birds of prey and plenty of abstract works.
The is the 20th anniversary exhibition, celebrating two decades of sculpture displays at Borde Hill.
Owner Andrew John Stephenson Clarke introduced the event. He explained that his great grandfather, Colonel Stephenson Clarke, had a passion for zoology and botany and purchased the estate in 1893.
He said: “His passion was collecting things and he therefore sponsored the great Victorian plant hunters to go all around the world to collect seeds. He went collecting himself as well and we now have that inheritance, which we continue to add to.”
“Today we have a different challenge, which is sculpture,” he continued. “Sculptures have a completely different life-cycle to plants. They don’t mind what the weather is and you can enjoy them all year round. You don’t have to weed them or dead-head them and you can go up to them and say hello to them in whatever frame of mind you’re in.”
“The benefit of being in Borde Hill gardens is partly the garden rooms that we have. There are lots of different areas, lots of different vistas. We’ve got 105 pieces. Some of them are large, some of them are small, and they are a mixture of resin, bronze, metal and so on. I hope you enjoy not only looking at them but eventually buying and owning some of them.”
Andrew John also thanked 1st Central Insurance from Haywards Heath who are proud to sponsor this year’s exhibition.
Garden designer and Gardeners World TV presenter Juliet Sargeant was delighted to cut the ribbon and open the display.
“I’ve always loved the interplay between sculpture and gardens,” she said. “You’ve got the changes of the weather and the beautiful light that we’ve got now playing on the leaves and then playing on the sculpture. Then you’ve got that element of time. As the garden changes the space changes and then also the sculpture. The sculpture might weather and develop a patina, so you’ve got that element of time, which I think is so special, where the sculpture is working with the space. The sculpture can really create the space, lift the space and create a story to tell us more about the garden.”
“I really just want to thank so much the artists who have created these pieces for us,” Juliet added. “And also to thank Andrew John and Eleni (his wife) for hosting these pieces and for giving us a wonderful opportunity to see the sculptures in such a marvellous setting.”
A central piece of the exhibition is the elegant and striking Icarus I in bronze by Nicola Godden.
“The original piece was actually commissioned for the Olympics so there was one of these in the Olympic Village in 2012,” Nicola explained.
“I had, prior to that, been playing around with the idea of Icarus and I had just learned to fly as well. I got a private pilot’s licence so I fly little aeroplanes. It was this idea of flight, man and flight, and then man and wings.”
Nicola has created about ten Icarus sculptures since then and strives to create a sense of precariousness, depicting the figure just as he’s about to take off.
Another key piece on the trail is Narcissus (in bronze) by Teresa Wells.
Teresa said: “My work is mainly about survival, about humanity surviving. For a long time I did work on communication. I have an autistic son and I had to understand and learn about different types of communication. At the same time I was observing around me how people were increasingly using mobile devices or technology to communicate and often getting it wrong. There was a kind of sick sense of irony in the fact that I was teaching my son how to communicate on a neurotypical level while everybody who had that ability was messing it up.”
Teresa said she was fascinated by the narcissistic nature of ‘selfies’ and the potentially damaging effects of obsessing over the self instead of connecting emphatically with others. So she decided to create a piece based on the Greek myth of Narcissus who fell in love with his own reflection. In her sculpture, Narcissus is balanced on the edge to suggest that humanity may be at the top of a very slippery slope.
Teresa added: “I’m always so delighted to take part in these exhibitions. I think the standard of work is incredible, the diversity of the work. It’s particularly important this year because it’s the 20th anniversary celebration.”
Borde Hill Garden is located in Borde Hill Lane, Haywards Heath.
You can find out more about the sculpture exhibition at www.bordehill.co.uk.
IN PICTURES: Some of the stunning sculptures at Borde Hill. Click here to view our gallery.