Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Eye See

click photo to enlarge
One of the pleasures of gardening is that you get to grips with nature. Growing plants for food and beauty is a marvellous pastime - but it's not for everybody. Only if you can come to terms with gardening's mixture of permanence and impermanence will it become a deeper obsession.

What do I mean by that? Well, in theory everything about a garden can be changed - the topography, trees, walls, ground cover - everything. But in practice there are are some things that you can't and don't change, or you change incrementally over a long period. The lie of your land is one such permanence, as are large trees, extensive walls, and big water features. But shrubs, flowers, vegetables and grass come and go with the seasons and according to the gardener's wishes. So too, by and large, does garden sculpture. In the average garden it tends to be small enough to move. But in larger gardens larger pieces are called for, and they become fairly permanent objects. That being so, you have to choose your sculptures carefully because if you decide you don't like them their removal requires a lot of work! Consequently, much large sculpture is fairly "safe", following traditional designs - classical figures, large urns, equestrian statues and the like. Large, challenging, or "odd" modern sculptures are much less common.

However, public or semi-public gardens like the 25 acres at Springfields Festival Gardens, Spalding, in Lincolnshire, can be bolder because they are enjoyed by streams of visitors rather than just an owner. Today's photograph shows part of The Sculpture Matrix designed by Chris Beardshaw. This uncompromisingly modernistic collection of big concrete rectangles, triangles and enclosures, painted purple and light blue, and pierced by horizontal and vertical slits, could only work in such a large area: it would overpower a smaller space. For me it's a sculpture that works in parts, but doesn't offer enough for its size. The detail I like best has this framed eye, inside an enclosure with shrubs, that can be glimpsed through the surrounding slits.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 22mm (44mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/17
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On