An Arrangement of Well Set Jewels
A temporary installation for Hanbury Hall, Worcestershire, commissioned by the National Trust as part of Trust New Art
In 2017 I was invited to create a temporary work for Hanbury Hall, an early 18th century stately home, as part of the group exhibition World is Chaos Creativity is Order. My starting point was the gardens, designed by George London. At that time formality, symmetry and neatness was highly fashionable; in a world that was experiencing turbulence and disorder there was a desire for control and order. Originally the garden and house would have been seen as a grand, unified entity. However whilst the gardens have been restored to their original grandeur, the house has lost much of its splendour. My aim was to make work that emphasised the importance of the garden to the house and to enliven the house with the same bejewelled character as the garden. Three sculptural works were created, each related to specific areas of the garden and park; all were sited near widows to emphasize their connection to London’s highly regimented depiction of nature.
An Arrangement of Well Set Jewels, Summer
The formal vegetable garden was the inspiration for the work in My Lady’s Parlour, which comprised Asparagus, Broad Beans and Artichoke designs sandblasted into hand-made glass tiles. The formal, linear arrangement of the tiles represented the ordered planting in the vegetable garden, where the growing of produce for spectacle emphasised Thomas Vernon’s wealth.
An Arrangement of Well Set Jewels, Autumn
One of the key features in the park is the Semicircle, designed by George London. Avenues of Field Maple, Hazel and Oak trees radiate out from the centre of a semicircle, creating viewpoints into the countryside beyond Hanbury Hall’s boundaries. Its function was to give the impression that Thomas Vernon also owned the distant land. I designed symbols to represent each of the tree species, which were then laser cut in transparent acrylic in the autumn colours of each tree. Light and reflection were central to the work; the trees glowed and shimmered as daylight hit the mirror.
An Arrangement of Well Set Jewels, Spring
The Parterre and Ribbon Border are the ultimate showpiece of George London’s garden, encapsulating perfectly the order, precision and grandeur of the era. Plants were seen as jewels, to be revered and admired. It was horticultural bling on a grand scale, making clear to all the owner’s wealth, success and place in society. Using approximately 2,000 glass beads and chandelier drops, I created my own ‘garden’; the ‘plants’ glowed like precious jewels in the sunlight. My ‘planting’ scheme followed the strict guidelines of the period and the colours chosen reflected the spring blooms at Hanbury Hall.