Grandparents love sightseeing don’t they? My nan loves a country walk – she adventurously walked around Spain for a month aged 63. So when she asked me if I wanted to go on a walk around a sculpture garden I was less than enthusiastic, expecting a perilous expedition into the Cotswold countryside.
Instead she took me to On Form, a biennial sculpture garden exhibition, an outside art gallery now in it’s 5th year and commanding the title of the largest stone sculpture exhibition in the Britain, with 26 sculptors taking part this year. The sculpture park is set in the grounds of Asthall manor, a 17th Century Manor house on the banks of the River Windrush. The house was the childhood home of the notorious Mitford sisters, aristocratic socialites with strong political views. One of the six sisters, Unity, was a close friend of Adolf Hitler and attempted suicide on the declaration of the Second World War. And that’s just the tip of the Mitford iceberg…
The current owners commissioned landscape gardeners Isabel and Julian Bannerman to create the manor’s stunning backdrop, who are better known for their work at Highgrove House. The six acres include lawns of wildflowers, maze-like hedges and a tree house to make the inner child inside all of us extremely jealous – hide and seek in this garden would have lasted for several blissful hours.
Didn’t have a decent camera with me, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to experiment with the Android FX camera app – but the sculpture snaps would have been amazing with my aunts wide-angle lense!
The best thing about the exhibition is that they have a ‘please do touch’ policy. Sculpture is best enjoyed when you can trace the roughness or the smoothness of the stone, but the different temperatures of the stone. Touch is a sence that art often does not allow use to use, but is often an important one that allows us to interpret the visual spectacle with more than just our eyes.
On arrival I was instantly drawn to the work of Peter Randall Page. I have a deep admiration for his work since attending a talk featuring him and David Mach while I was studying A-level Art – here he was staying true to his circular organic forms sampled from nature.
I my eye also wandered gracefully over the work of Frederic Chevarin, in both the garden and the ball room. His work reminded me of the delicate and intricate curves of a Georgia O’Keeffe painting, replacing harmonious colour with tender form.
I have to show off the work of Jonathon Loxley; a) because I love the effects with the fish-eye lense & b) Hannah loves her mobius loops.
And finally the work of Regis Chaperon deserves a mention, purely for it’s comedy value. approaching this piece of volcanic rock I loudly exclaimed in my surprise: “Errrr, it’s got worms in it!” I found the work tounge in cheek and humourous, reminding me of schoolgirl chants of ‘going to the garden to eat worms’ or ‘crawling under a rock and dying’, chants of which one could expect the Mitford sisters to tease each other with.
On form is open from Sunday 13th June to Sunday 11th July (12 noon to 6pm, closed Mondays and Tuesdays.)