Take a stroll through a beautiful Cotswold garden and your eye will be drawn to one of the many pieces of sculpture that are an inherent part of the planting and design. It may be a lichen-clad stone animal or a more contemporary work of art – either way, the garden would be the poorer for it if it weren’t there.
Garden designers will often use a sculpture as a focal point as it will slow the visitor’s path through the garden, persuading them to stop and direct their gaze. A garden is then revealed, slowly, rather than being swept over quickly.
A sculpture can surprise, intrigue and draw attention. And by drawing attention, you then also start to notice the garden around it and what it relates to – the weather, the light, the vegetation as well as the views.
Here are some of the most popular types of outdoor sculpture:
- Sculptures that mimic nature using patterns and formal elements of plant growth
- Human figurines or heads
- Abstract sculpture with an emphasis on the material used (e.g. glass, metal, stone or wood).
- The garden itself becomes a sculpture or installation in its own right (e.g. a Japanese Zen garden)
When you’re picking a sculpture, you’ll have at the back of your mind the sort of response you’d like to stir in visitors. Is it pleasure, mystery, humour or maybe a feeling of calm?
To generate those desired feelings, your sculpture will need to fit the theme of the garden. Finding the right place to put it is then crucial.
Here are few things to consider when siting a sculpture:
- Placement on a plinth or lawn
For the past three years, I’ve designed David Harber’s sculpture gardens for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and am therefore a fan of an exquisitely crafted piece creating an outdoor focal point.
2015 saw us winning the much-coveted Five Star Award again, with a woodland garden designed around the sculptures. One of them was Torus (see below), with white marble on one side and stainless steel on the other. The garden used light, water and reflections to create that element of surprise with just a touch of magic…