CGA’s Editor interviews Simon Gudgeon about the inspiration for his sculptures, the design process and the transformation of his Sculpture Park in Dorset.
To read the article CLICK HERE
Country Gentlemen’s Association April/May 2013
“I visited on a very cold day when no one was about, but the beauty of the place somehow was enhanced by the bleakness in the air. I went there to remember a particular person and there were some lovely spaces for reflection and prayer. Excellent value and I hope to return again in different seasons just to enjoy. I really liked the quotes etched into the stone sculptures and the contrast of rapid running water in the river and the stillness of the lakes themselves – beautiful.”Visited April 2013Comment left on Trip Advisor by recent visitor.
Simon Gudgeon’s new hardback book, Sculpture by the Lakes, is now available to purchase online at Amazon.
Described as one of the most beautiful and unique sculptures parks in the United Kingdom, Sculpture by the Lakes has been captured in all its splendour and has been brought together in the pages of this ‘must have’ book.
Through stunning photographs and the artist’s own words, the book reveals the background to Simon’s sculptures and the development and opening of his Sculpture Park in West Dorset.
It’s a great read and a covetable coffee table book. We hope you enjoy it.
I have just been gently reminded that my last blog was September and wasn’t it about time I put finger to keyboard…..? The intervening three months have not been an inspiring time in the garden and particularly here at Sculpture by the Lakes. By its nature there is a lot of water around plus we are bounded to the south by the River Frome, which for the last four months has been full to overflowing and overflowed it certainly has.
We are relatively lucky in that the meadows across the river from us are much lower than our land but such is the sheer quantity and unrelenting nature of the rain that the river has flooded in through the low-lying woodland on our western fringes. This has poured straight into the Lakes, which subsequently overflow and flood back across our ground to rejoin where the river roughly flows. It’s done this at least twice during December but thank goodness not anywhere near any of our buildings so our feet have stayed dry.
Not so lucky have been some recently planted shrubs, trees and herbaceous perennials. Many have literally rotted in the ground with roots sodden and black – it has been a little dispiriting. Still as I write we have had a few days of no rain and the river is receding slowly but surely and the muddy, slippery paths are starting to green up again.
But it’s not been all doom and gloom, we’ve certainly not had much in the way of really cold weather, although some say we need a good cold snap to kill off a few bugs and slugs. Already the willows have started to push out their divinely silky silver buds and the witch hazel is flowering (this one is Hamamelis mollis ‘Pallida’), however I am now pushing to get the beds tidy and cut back, to move things which need dividing or replacing before things start growing again. The forecast says a possible cold snap towards the end of January but we’ll see.
Yesterday as I was cutting back roses and clematis I came upon this late bloomer.
This is the shrub version of the wonderful Iceberg rose, an excellent performer and non-stop flowerer which it aptly proves here!
Another great favourite of mine at this time of the year is the rather dull looking Sarcococca confusa, but get anywhere within 20 feet of this terrific little shrub and you’ll be assaulted by the most delicious fragrance wafting through the garden. Also known as Christmas or Sweet Box, the tiny little flowers are hardly visible amongst the evergreen foliage but boy do they pack an olfactory punch!
For another sensory delight, the greenhouse is the place to be at the moment, perfect for taking shelter from sudden showers, as the Jasmine is in full flower.
On a warm day I leave the door open to get some air through and this delicious twining climber scents the whole vegetable garden.I bought it as a houseplant many years ago and have potted it on several times but now it’s reached it’s final home as I can only just heave it in and out of the door each spring and autumn.
One of my Christmas presents – till recently this scrambling rose (subjected to hard pruning so not much to see) was clinging rather inelegantly to some wonky bamboo canes but it now has this vastly superior frame to drape itself over.
Check out their website at www.artisanplantsupports.co.uk
Now back to the pruning……
Regular visitors to Sculpture by the Lakes, Brian Crompton and his wife, recently took a walk around the sculpture park on a changeable November day, which resulted in some great photos that we thought we’d share with you.
Having moved to Dorset just over four years ago, Brian’s interest in photography developed, inspired by living in an area surrounded by beautiful locations.
Specialising in land and seascapes, he finds himself constantly looking out for new and unique locations, checking weather reports, planning around tides, sunrises and sunsets.
He says “Sculpture by the Lakes certainly offers a unique opportunity to capture the changing elements in a beautiful location with stunning sculpted creations.”
We are delighted to announce that Simon Gudgeon has recently won the Evelyn & Peter Haller Memorial Award for Sculpture for his ‘Reclining Hare’ at the Society of Animal Artists 52nd Annual Exhibition 2012, held at the Hiram Blauvelt Art Museum.
A very autumnal feel and smell to the garden this morning, can’t quite pin it down but it’s a mixture of cool air, decaying vegetation, disturbed soil, fallen apples and maybe a hint of distant bonfire…. Whatever the magic mixture is it inspires me to get out and tidy, much like that first warm spring day gets you leaping forth to scrape away winter’s detritus, autumn mornings get me twitching for secateurs and rake.
It’s a tricky time too, tempting as it is to make a clean sweep of the beds, there are still late perennials doing their thing and because of the late season some of the Asters have hardly started so there is still quite a lot to look forward to.
This is also the time of year that I plan for autumn and winter jobs and I can start sending out wish lists to plant nurseries near and far. The much-awaited Butterfly Walk is now planned and all the shrubs, trees, and perennials ordered. The backbone of the planting will be every butterfly’s number one favourite, Buddleja, aptly named the Butterfly Bush. A recent feature about this plant in the Royal Horticultural Society’s magazine The Garden was perfectly timed and I now have ten little shrubs waiting for the ground to be cleared and cultivated. Hopefully I can get them in by the end of the month and then they’ll have a chance to get good roots down before the winter chill ceases all activity.
I have also included Lavender, Nepeta (Catmint), Hydrangea, Honeysuckle, Escallonia and a smattering of Lilacs and I shall scatter some Borage seeds once everything else is in. The Butterfly Conservation website – http://www.butterfly-conservation.org - has been invaluable and provides a list of 100 Best Butterfly Nectar Plants.
Some parts of the garden ending others coming to life, there’s much to keep us gardeners occupied over the coming weeks.
The visitors, led by Don Courtney arrived on a glorious late summer’s day for a picnic by the lakes. The group of friends regularly organise trips out and say they enjoy a day of motoring and a visit to a local attraction.
Of the 241 cars made, it is estimated that 221 survive across 14 countries. Many of the cars , commonly called “Hurgs” are still in use, with a few in active competition.
The cars glistened in the sunshine as they took pride of place in the car park at Sculpture by the Lakes, creating an added attraction for other visitors.
Having painted a picture of what we started with four and half odd years ago when we moved here, I’ve decided to bring the blog right up to date and look at what’s happening in the garden now.
Weather has been more than challenging this season, an incredibly dry spring when everything was burst
ing forth and then two and half months of cold, rain, wind – more autumnal than anything else. But now a vqgue sense of normality reigns – three warm days, a thunderstorm and then cool again – something we are more used and which is merely disappointing rather than the depressing cold of June and July.
As I write this, the sun is shining and the gardens are full of visitors. The cool weather has extended the season of many plants and the flowers have hung on for longer. The worst casualties during the cold spell were the roses which never seemed to have a full flush as they were always bashed and battered and then turned to mush – I’m hoping for a good second flush so we’re feeding them like mad. The daylilies also had a bad start to the season, many of the buds seemed distorted and I think there was some bug at work as well as the lack of rain – I picked off all the affected buds and burnt them just in case. As soon as the sun shone forth – just in time for the start of the Olympics I noticed – they rallied and have been flowering fit to burst ever since. Daylilies are my NBFs of the moment (New Best Friends), to such an extent that I’ve put aside a whole corner of the front garden just for them. It’s only their first season so they have a lot of filling out to do but by next year they should start to dazzle.
My favourite parts of the garden at the moment centre around the walkway, which we call the Wise Walk, its colours and shapes are still good even though I’ve had to start cutting all the Alchemilla mollis back. I have a love/hate relationship with this plant – in spring and full of fresh growth and flowers it cannot be beaten but as soon as it starts to droop and squash its neighbours and scatter seeds everywhere I admit to having less enthusiasm for it.
My other star at the moment is the Karikome Garden. This year finally, after three odd years of clipping and shaping by Wizard Topiarist and Japanese Garden Guru Jake Hobson (www.niwaki.com), my mad idea of a lumpy-bumpy, blobbish sort of landscape formed our of the evergreen hedging shrub Lonicera nitida has finally come to fruition and I have to admit to being thrilled with it. It still needs to grow up at the back, but the front part by the house is exactly as I imagined it to be – what more can a gardener wish for.
In July the National Museum of Wildlife Art saw the unveiling of Simon Gudgeon’s iconic sculpture Isis at their Sculpture Trail in Jackson Hole.
The piece is the only monumental sculpture by a British sculptor to be installed in the Trail. The vast landscape and dramatic backdrop of the Sleeping Indian Mountain contrasts beautifully with the smooth style and lines of Isis, the goddess of nature, and the sheer expanse and ruggedness of the landscape that she nestles in brings a new dimension to the piece.
The new outdoor Sculpture Trail was realised after a generous donation by Debbie Peterson in memory of her husband Jim, who loved the arts. It will bring a whole new dimension to the museum by placing large sculptures outdoors where the changing seasons and different times of day will make them an ever-changing event.
On a cold March morning a beautiful three-metre sculpture is slowly, silently, carefully installed in the magnificent Dorset landscape of Sculpture by the Lakes. ‘Isis’ by internationally renowned artist, Simon Gudgeon joins the other extraordinary sculptures which seem perfectly at home in the 26 acres of Pallington Lakes, near Dorchester.
So my starting point for the garden at Sculpture by the Lakes will be the day we moved in – 18th December 2007 – a cold, grey morning. Approximately 250 plants – trees, shrubs, herbaceous – had been carefully dug up, wrapped and shifted from a warm and sheltered garden in Wiltshire to a chilly and decidedly windy spot alongside the River Frome in Dorset.
Iconic is a term reserved for few things in life. Making a significant mark on the cultural landscape must surely be a requirement for this status. A cultural icon is readily recognized and generally represents something with great cultural significance. It becomes ubiquitous and moulds into the consiousness.
Simon Gudgeon is making a significant mark. He, in association with the Halcyon Gallery, has had considerable influence on the London landscape with the unveiling of another of his magnificent pieces of sculpture in the open air and in plain view.
Monique continues her personal journey and reflections on the garden as it took shape at Sculpture by the Lakes.
Before we even exchanged contracts I had the camera out and started taking photos of what was there, measuring up and generally making plans. I had my list of what plants were coming with me and I knew what I wanted: (more…)
This time round, Monique Gudgeon presents her Garden Blog. Monique is a talented Garden Designer and the artistic,horticultural hand behind Simon’s outdoor sculptures. Here, she takes us through part of the seasonal journey that has made ‘Sculpture by the Lakes’ a beautiful place.
The trouble with beginning to write about something you’ve been deep into for a while is where to open the dialogue, and once you’ve chosen the entry point then how much detail do you go into without getting terminally bogged down or, worse still, boring the pants off the reader. So bear with me, I’m new to this but I aim to get better at it with time.
When I learnt my wordsmith craft up in London many years ago, one of the handy maxims passed on was, “Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them you’ve told them”, or, make sure you’ve got a beginning, a middle and an end. Well this is the beginning. (more…)
Simon Gudgeon’s ‘Sculpture by the Lakes’ recently played host to the combined talents of photographer Elie Dervonte and students from the Urdang Musical Theatre Academy in London. The event provided an opportunity to explore the concept of art forms combined and harmonised to create a different artistic dynamic. Simon Gudgeon is never afraid to expand and extend the potential of his art and to explore different ways of sharing it with a wider audience. (more…)
Simon has had a number of his sculptures installed in some prestigious places. Now his art is ensconced in one of the most highly valued pieces of real estate in the world: One Hyde Park is billed as the World’s Best Address. This exclusive apartment complex sits in the middle of London’s Knightsbridge next to The Mandarin Oriental Hotel. It was developed and designed by Candy & Candy , a world leading interior design and development management company. (more…)
Simon Gudgeon’s magnificent sculpture, “Search for Enlightenment’ was installed in the Riverside Walk Garden, Millbank, London on the 9th October alongside Henry Moore’s ‘Locking Piece’. The Garden overlooks the Thames and is close to Tate Britain. It is an oasis in the middle of a busy city. People go there to relax, eat lunch or just think. So it is a perfect venue for Simon’s piece. (more…)
Simon Gudgeon’s magnificent bronze ‘Isis’ sits in Hyde Park next to the Serpentine, the first piece of sculpture to do so in 50 years. At its base there are 1000 plaques inscribed with the names of generous donors who have helped to raise £2.2 million to build the Isis Education Centre which is designed to enable communities and especially city school children, to enjoy and experience the wonders of nature and the importance of protecting and preserving the environment for the future. The Centre is right in the heart of the Park. (more…)
This blog is about Simon Gudgeon, the artist, the person. It is a dialogue with those who want to share in his creativity and passion. Art should speak to you the observer and you can communicate the experience of that art to others. Whether or not you have visited Sculpture by the Lakes (and of course you will feel that this is a must), you will see his work in many other places. The links from this blog will take you there and you can share in the journey of the artist as he develops and evolves, whilst he is continuously searching for the next challenge, the next dimension. (more…)