A garden full of sculptures for Oxfordshire Artweek

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Ribbon, by Richard Cresswell

On Bank Holiday Monday Chris and I went to the last day of “Sculpture at Kingham Lodge” in the nearby village of, oh yes, Kingham.  Kingham Lodge has already raised tens of thousands of pounds for good causes with similar exhibitions in previous years and I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people there, obviously the combination of art, garden and charity fund raising is a winning one. There were lots of families playing on the lawns, and quite a few people like us who just wanted a little outing, a bit of art to make us feel cultured, and maybe a cup of tea.

Anyone can be a critic.

Anyone can be a critic.

Head in Three Blocks, by James Conolly

Head in Three Blocks, by James Conolly

As well as local charities, this event supports a group of Zimbabwean sculptors, so their work was on show, mixed with British sculptors’ works in many styles and materials, most of them for sale. There were a lot of works that I didn’t like – but then that is half the fun, anyone can be an art critic!

It’s a very different show to the much more upmarket one at Asthall Manor (although some of the artists overlap), and with over 300 pieces it’s a bit overcrowded. Aesthetically I would have preferred not to be able to see so many sculptures at once, but that would be hard to arrange in such an open garden which is mostly on the same level. It was a case of the more the messier, but possibly also the merrier. I disliked the prominent white number labels and tried to avoid getting those in photos – so I apologise to any sculptors whose work I have failed to identify correctly in this post. Feel free to put me right.

Greedy Hippo, by Tracy Chatsama (Zimbabwe)

Greedy Hippo, by Tracy Chatsama (Zimbabwe)

One reason there were so many families there, I guess, was that there were also sculptures made by children from local schools. These were some of my favourite exhibits. They had an exuberance which can be lacking in adult sculpture. Kingham Lodge invites schools to visit and gain inspiration from the exhibition, and grants are given from the funds raised by this Artweek event to various local primary schools and secondary schools to help with their own sculpture projects. I say Hooray for anyone who supports art and music in schools, when those subjects are under so much pressure from politicians who tinker with education and force schools to focus on more easily measurable results.

Crazy Lollipops, by Years 5 & 6, Ducklington Primary School

Crazy Lollipops, by Years 5 & 6, Ducklington Primary School

I liked this combination

I liked this combination

I wasn’t terribly keen on the garden itself. It’s one of those places that has had a lot of money spent on it but doesn’t (yet?) have a soul – or at least not one which connected with me. It’s a large garden (5 acres), with some individually appealing features, but for me it doesn’t hang together. I’m sure it will improve as time goes on – and the important thing is that its owners love it and want to share it.

There were some fine planty moments (nice combinations in some of the borders, some lovely shrubs and tree paeonies) but I disliked the sweet jar collection of rhododendrons, partly for their bilious colours, partly because I just can’t handle lots of ericaceous plants in the alkaline landscape of the Cotswolds.

Not my cup of tea

Not my cup of tea

There were some lovely paeonies

There were some lovely paeonies

 

 

Can't think why I felt more at home in here...

Can’t think why I felt more at home in here…

I did love the asymmetric wooden greenhouse tucked away in the little kitchen garden. I can never resist having a nosy in a greenhouse, and there was a small lean-to polycarbonate bonus greenhouse too, which is obviously somebody’s refuge from the world.

I do like it when people leave their greenhouse doors invitingly open

I do like it when people leave their greenhouse doors invitingly open

Inside the greenhouse

Inside the greenhouse

Oh dear, I've failed to identify this. But I thought it was well-placed.

Oh dear, I’ve failed to identify this. But I thought it was well-placed.

There was something of interest for everyone – and that can only be a good thing in an event designed to make art accessible. There were lots of photographers peering at odd angles everywhere. It is great fun trying to get good photos of garden sculpture and it really helps to improve your powers of composition; my biggest missed opportunity was an amusing shaggy dog nose to nose with a stone hippopotamus, sadly its owners noticed me aiming my camera,said “Oh, sorry!”and pulled it out of the way (the dog, not the hippo). Oh well.

Pike on a Trike by Daren Greenhow. Makes me think about fish needing bicycles...

Pike on a Trike by Daren Greenhow.
Makes me think about fish needing bicycles…

Leaving the exhibition I experienced the peculiar phenomenon of every day objects turning into sculptures, I looked with a newly trained eye at the world around me as we headed back to the car park.

Going Nowhere, by L.Y. Cra

Going Nowhere, by L.Y. Cra

Nevertheless, my favourite installation of the day was the May-burgeoning bridlepath which headed off between the fields, towards the rain clouds.

Bridlepath, by Oxford Shire

Bridlepath, by Oxford Shire

I’ll leave you with some more photos, and you can give your own verdicts on the sculptures.

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There was even sculpture rising from the septic tank

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Dame Judi, by Carol Orwin

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Daddy’s Boy, by Dawn Benson

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Some of the “Germs” by Chipping Norton School. We loved these

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Kite, by Yrs 4 & 5, Kitebrook House school

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To be honest I was a bit more interested in the Paeonia (rockii?)

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No, he’s not commenting on my photography techniques, he’s looking at wire faces hanging from the trees.

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Horse Head, by Pat Elmore

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Murmuration, by Richard Cresswell, this was clever – those little triangular things swivelled, and caught the wind and light together.

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White Flora, by Carole Andrews

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Chinese Dragon, by Daren Greenhow

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One of the butterflies made by Chadlington Primary School

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Sheep, by Pat Elmore

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Could be a scene from Doctor Who…

 

 

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4 thoughts on “A garden full of sculptures for Oxfordshire Artweek

  1. Some really interesting sculptures there. As for the rhododendron’s we went to Bodnant a couple of weeks ago. the colours there were bonkers. i am not really a fan of them, but i loved it there.

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    • I think rhododendrons can be fantastic, but the brightest ones do need diluting with a bit of interesting foliage, I think. They look better in places where they thrive naturally, too, in our alkaline neck of the woods they never seem to look quite right. Bodnant is wonderful but I’ve only seen it in late summer, would love to see the valley garden at rhodie time.

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