Sculpture in the garden – the concept of Et in Arcadia Ego – I too am in Arcadia – expresses the idea of the human figure in a garden or landscape as a memento mori – an image of tranquility and beauty in nature while contemplating the idea that all things change and pass. The public sculptures in the landscape in the exhibition A Change of Heart reflect the process of private contemplation in a tradition that echoes the gardens of Herculaneum or Tiberius’ Villa on the isle of Capri.
“Take a beautiful garden. Then place in it a series of sculptures – some of them, light-hearted and witty; others, challenging and dark. Site the pieces carefully so they generate a momentum; a dynamism that’s emblematic of changes in concepts and new ways of handling material. Life is defined by constant change – when we can accept and welcome that fact with all the uncertainty and insecurity which that implies we have a chance to be free.” Almuth Tebbenhoff
A Change of Heart features twenty sculptures in the botanical gardens that highlights the importance of openness to change in the creative process. The 16-acre site at the University of Leicester houses an arboretum, herb garden, water garden, and a series of glasshouses and has hosted over 380 sculptures since its inception, attracting around 30,000 people every year.
“Chameleons, litmus paper, weather, opinions, fashions, politics, perspectives… everything is in flux. But, while most of these phenomena are external, we sometimes need to change something. And that’s where the making of art starts. We take some dumb material such as stone, metal or clay – it can’t answer back as it hasn’t a mind of it’s own – and we force our will upn it, hit it, mould it, torch it and generally do whatever we like with it.” Almuth Tebbenhoff
The sculptures have a conceptual rather than a stylistic unity and represent diverse approaches: William Pye. Brick Buoy. “Images drawn in the clay of Brick Buoy suggest recession into the heart of the cone: a flight of steps, concentric circles drawing one in behind the surface and a triangle in darker clay, these are anamorphic projections which appear to the viewer from a particular angle.” Rachel Carter. Bronze Grand Sphere. Bronze, 2013. A bronze rendering of woven willow withies; Graham Ensor. Sporopollenin, 2013. An image mown into lawn draws inspiration from patterns of seeds and pollens; Sue Freeborough. Mitrochondrial Eve, Bronze with stainless steel column, 2011. A Cycladic styled female figure is covered with white glaze and flower and butterfly decals; Nick Turvey. Conscience, 2011. A bronze resin figure suggests the abstracted shape of a human body wrapped in fabric, constricted by ropes and randomly abandoned, suggesting a moral and political change of heart.
The exhibition, curated by Almuth Tebbenhoff, features work by 20 artists: Ekkehard Altenburger, Bruce Beasley, James Capper, Rachel Carter, Halima Cassell, Alice Cunningham, Graham Ensor, Richard Fenton, Susan Forsyth, Sue Freeborough, Marigold Hodgkinson, Liane Lang, Diane McLean, Benedetto Pietromarchi, Keith Rand, Anna Sikorska, Almuth Tebbenhoff, Nick Turvey, William Pye. and David Worthington.
A Change of Heart. Harold Martin Botanic Garden, Glebe Road, Oadby, Leicester LE2 2LD. June 30 – October 27. 10.00am – 4.00pm. Open seven days a week, Entry is free, except on special event days.
Catalogue: A Change of Heart. 50pp with Introduction by Tom Flynn. £6+p&p available from Stella Couloutbanis, Visual Arts Manager, Embrace Arts, Richard Attenborough Centre, University of Leicester, e. firstname.lastname@example.org, t. 0116 223 1529
William Pye. Brick Buoy. Fired Brick clay, 1983
Rachel Carter. Bronze Grand Sphere. Bronze,2013
Susan Freeborough. Mitochondrial Eve. Bronze and stainless steel column, 2011
Nick Turvey. Conscience. EPS, bronze resin and nylon rope, 2011
Graham Ensor. Sporopollenin, 2013. Grass drawing – mown, 2013