Art in the garden – Don’t let that sculpture fly away
‘Broadside’ by Rick Kirby (Mild Steel) Image courtesy of The Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden- photographer Vikki Leedham
Yes believe me it does happen! A client of mine found that an art work can have a mind of its own and decamp to the other side of the garden leaving total destruction in its path.
The client was thinking about a short-list of artists whose work she admired and wanted to place the art work at the end of a path I had designed. Whilst away on a business trip her well meaning husband decided to buy one of the pieces she had short-listed as a surprise. The art work, a vertical modern sculptural piece made of metal standing about 3m high and 1m wide was shipped and delivered and place on the hard standing I had designed and had built.
A few weeks later however, in the winter of 2011 when storms with 70m/hour winds and rain hit Hampshire, the sculpture promptly flew across the garden destroying the new planting and ending up in the pond about 200m away. My client had meant to have the sculpture anchored down as I had recommended but she had been busy and it was not on her priority list. Lesson learnt…. hence why there are a few things to think about before you purchase art for your garden.
Five top “must check” before you buy or commission art works for the garden
1. Planning permission: I only deal with private gardens but I do always check with local councils for guidance if the art work is of a substantial size (more than 2mx2m). The usual reply is that you do not need planning if it is not a very large structure but I advise to always check.
2. Decide on the location in your garden: positioning should be well thought out as the intimacy of a private garden demands art that is different to art for a public garden. If you are commissioning a piece, discuss this with the artist. Will it be a focal point that draws the eye to that part of the garden and make you linger? What size are you considering? Art in whatever medium should not detract from the design and planting but neither should it disappear. It is about being complimentary and striking a balance.
On the other hand rules are meant to be broken! A striking piece can dominate the space and that is ok – Wilfred Cass, of the Cass Sculpture Foundation has a different approach and believes that all art works “makes its own space”. But a sculpture park or a garden of many acres is different to a residential garden. Art works stand up on their own easily in a vast expanse of space – so keep that in mind.
‘Torqhead’ and ‘Dark Blue Head’ by Pat Volk (Stoneware) Image courtesy of The Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden
‘Unified Balance’ by Sally Fawkes and Richard Jackson, detail, (cast glass, polished and carved, stainless steel) at The Garden Gallery
3. The cost of setting up: remember that buying an art work fort each garden means that it has to be delivered to you and placed where it needs to stand. Smaller art pieces can still be very heavy particularly if made of stone or bronze for example.
Aside from shipping and help on placing the work, there is often the issue of access. Do you have access to the garden separately to the house; many houses in London do not. Measure the size of the art work and the size of your access.
Anchoring down the art work when required might mean calling in a builder to help. This is trickier if the piece is meant to hang from trees for example, such as mobile art. I would ensure that the structure is positioned away from the house and also that the tree is healthy.
With water structures, you will need to consider how to connect water to the piece in question – this will mean digging a trench and new pipes being laid and making good again.
‘Wind’ by Ike Prins (Bronze) Image courtesy of The Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden – photographer Vikki Leedham
4. Is the art work fit for purpose? Art made of wood and other organic materials for example might take on a whole new colour and patina over time. Will they crack, move and twist – Douglas Fir and Cedar are extremely hard wearing. If your art work is made from glass – you will need to wash it for example. If the art work is made of textile, is it UV stable and water resistant? Ensure that any ceramics bought is frost proof such as the one below.
‘Abereiddi Jar ‘by Adam Buick (stoneware with geological inclusions) Image courtesy of The Garden Gallery
Knowledge of all these things will make the sourcing and purchasing of an art work for the garden not only a pain free experience but one that is exciting by its revelation of artists, materials and technology as well as an appreciation of art in a wider context.
In two weeks we discuss commissioning an art work for the garden whether you are considering a limited edition or a one-off.
By Francoise Murat
Woburn Art Beat at Woburn Abbey – until 31st August 2012
Hatfield House – until 23rd June 2012
Yorkshire Sculpture Park – check for opening times
Hillier Gardens – check website for opening times