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Footprints on the Sands of Time

2016 marks the tercentenary of the birth of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, a man so influential that he is regarded as the ‘father’ of landscape architecture. 

 
In partnership with The Capability Brown Festival, VisitEngland is promoting ‘Year of the English Garden’ as a key theme for 2016, in celebration of England’s many beautiful gardens.
 
Lancelot Brown was a man who left deep “footprints on the sands of time” (A Psalm of Life by H. W. Longfellow). In the spirit of this year’s festival of Brown’s achievements and legacy, and the art and design of gardens, The Garden Gallery will celebrate and promote the role of contemporary sculpture and ceramics as key elements in the creation of beautiful gardens, a tradition reaching back centuries and now an integral part of garden design.
 

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Blown Away by Sioban Coppinger FRBS

The Power of Art

Recently, I visited Ai Weiwei’s exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. The galleries were full, with visitors of all ages and many nationalities engaging with the profound and thought-provoking displays. It was heartening to find the RA confronting the issues raised by Ai Weiwei through his work in a measured, sensitive and deeply thoughtful way. Visitors are encouraged to take photographs and share them through social media.  Ai Weiwei’s work speaks for itself and testifies to the power of art to make us think about other people’s lives, the problems they face when they do not live in a democratic society where freedom of expression is taken for granted, and what we can do to help bring about change for the better. 

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The Pietrasanta Connection

A group of sculptors from Pietrasanta, Tuscany, are represented in Truth to Material, the latest exhibition at The Garden Gallery. A creative hub for marble carvers, close to the mountains of Carrara where Michelangelo sourced his stone, the historic centre of Pietrasanta is now largely given over to chic shops and galleries. The sound of sculptors at work and the marble dust are to be found at the edge of town.

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Truth to Material

In 2015 100 years will have passed since the death in the trenches at the age of 23 of the outstandingly talented sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska. Influenced by Jacob Epstein, Gaudier-Brzeska was an early exponent of the practise of direct carving, originally introduced by Brancusi.  
 
Direct carving adhered to the doctrine of truth to materials, allowing the innate qualities of the stone, marble or wood to show through simple forms, respecting the block, and often polished to bring out the colour and grain.  This ethos of simple forms created through truth to materials was at the heart of the Arts and Crafts Movement, which also used nature as a source of inspiration, particularly for pattern, in the strong belief that art and craft enhances people’s lives.

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Remembrance at Sandham Memorial Chapel

On 11 November I attended a simple service to mark Armistice Day at the Sandham Memorial Chapel, Burghclere.  It was a huge privilege to sit in this modest chapel, dominated by the murals Stanley Spencer painted following his experiences as a soldier and medical orderly at the Salonika Front in World War One. The soldiers in Spencer’s paintings, some in his powerful resurrection scene, others recuperating in hospital, could have come from villages such as Burghclere. The scenes depicted by Spencer convey tenderness and compassion, and a strong sense of the poet Wilfred Owen’s “pity of war”:
 
“Above all I am not concerned with Poetry.
My subject is War, and the pity of War.
The Poetry is in the pity.”

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