Large Richmond Oak by Kenneth Armitage .
Large Richmond Oak by Kenneth Armitage .

press to zoom
Tall Oak by Kenneth Armitage
Tall Oak by Kenneth Armitage

press to zoom
Origin by Julian Wild
Origin by Julian Wild

press to zoom
Large Richmond Oak by Kenneth Armitage .
Large Richmond Oak by Kenneth Armitage .

press to zoom
1/6

In Nature:
A Celebration in Sculpture

This exhibition will open in April 2022.

The Secret Garden, the only secure outdoor space in the city for showing valuable sculpture, hosts temporary exhibitions by nationally and internationally exhibited artists. Its beautiful planting scheme is the perfect backdrop for works of art and the garden itself is an oasis of calm in which to enjoy them. ‘In Nature’ takes the theme of trees and seed forms. It features major sculptures including the magnificent large-scale Richmond Oak, and accompanying works, by Kenneth Armitage; Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva’s gilded elm and transformed Preston Twin; two striking red tree forms by Julian Wild; and a selection of Wendy Taylor’s acclaimed seed series: Sycamore, Fir Cones, Poppy Seed, Acorn and Cob Nut. The exhibition includes new works ideally suited to this setting. 

 

Visitors of all ages are welcome. Entry is free and the garden is accessible for wheelchairs, enabling a wide range of people to enjoy high quality sculpture in a relaxing atmosphere, with events for local schools, students and older people. During public openings there is a very popular café, by TABLE Brighton, offering the best homemade Sussex fare. 

Click below for brief artist CVs:

Kenneth Armitage CBE RA

Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva

Wendy Taylor CBE

Julian Wild

Transforming the felled Preston Twin

Acclaimed sculptor, Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva, who is included in 'In Nature', will now show a second large scale piece. 

Brighton & Hove is host to the National Elm Collection, thanks to the Council’s arboreal expertise. The Brighton ‘Preston Twins’, in Preston Park, considered to be amongst the oldest elms in the world, were planted around 1613, during James I‘s reign, when Shakespeare’s plays were first being performed. 

Until 2019, they stood together majestically, having avoided contamination by Elm Disease through the stringent control measures adopted by Brighton & Hove City Council. A storm in 2017 exposed a hollow trunk in one of the ‘twins’, and thereafter the disease spread within. In 2019, the Council had no option but to fell this magnificent specimen, but they were determined not to lose this national treasure. 

Alister Peters, an immensely experienced consultant for Connick Tree Care, seconded to the Council to assist in identifying infected trees, and arranging for their removal to stop the spread, was keen to give the Preston Twin an opportunity for an artistic after life. He arranged for the stem to be transported to Waterhall Sports Ground for temporary storage and invited Elpida to the site, as she de-barks and chars dead elm trees, which she then gilds, converting them into sculptures of exceptional beauty. Alister and Elpida agreed that she would be able to give the tree new ‘life’ so that, hopefully, it could eventually be reunited with its twin in Preston Park, as a major artwork. Since this tree is too large for most studio spaces, Gavin Henderson agreed that she could work on it in the Secret Garden. 

The transportation of the elm from Waterhall Sports Ground to the Secret Garden was a very skilled job – full of drama. A special brace was made to support the tree, and the transportation was managed by Alister and additional professional specialists.  The team showed breath-taking expertise as they craned the tree over the tall open gates of the Secret Garden. The elm was then eased down the entrance slope. It is now standing upright and Elpida is working on it.  The elm transformed will be a star exhibit in next year's show.