Easter sculpture festival

30 March 2018, 10.00 AM - 2 April 2018, 5.00 PM

University of Bristol Botanic Garden

Dragon’s egg planters, ghost flowers glistening in the twilight, stained glass masterpieces to brighten the gloomiest of days, stone flautists and graceful cranes, are a few of the delights to see at this year’s Easter Sculpture Festival.

Now an established event in the south west arts and gardening calendar, this year’s Festival features more sculptors than ever before, working in a wide range of different materials.

“As the Garden reawakens in springtime local artists who have been inspired by the natural world display their work at the Garden’s Sculpture Festival. This year for the first time chainsaw artist Denius Parson will be demonstrating his art through the use of a chainsaw. This is fast paced and exciting work and I look forward to seeing his work emerge through the Festival Weekend.With the Garden bursting into life, this will create the perfect environment for visitors to enjoy.” Curator, Nick Wray.

Denius Parson manages a small woodland on the outskirts of Painswick, Gloucestershire, where he breathes new life into the diseased and dying trees he tends by converting them into unique natural creations, which integrate perfectly into their new surroundings. Denius will be giving chainsaw sculpture demonstrations throughout the Festival weekend. (See website for programme.)

He summarises his life as being a “balance between living with nature and making a living from nature. “Timber gives me a sense of peace. Using a chainsaw means that I can get from the raw material to a thing of beauty reasonably quickly, which makes this kind of coarse sculpture surprisingly affordable”. You cannot resist touching a beautifully carved piece of wood, it is often your first impulse when you see a piece that takes the natural form of the timber and brings it to life.”

A complete contrast are Penny Hardy’s cast dance figures inspired by the dynamic forms of contemporary dancers using flexible, sinuous materials to re-create a visual, retained memory of movement, stimulating imagination and translating early sketches to a tactile experience. Penny originally trained as a Scientific Illustrator but has developed a deep interest in three dimensional forms and sculpture

The sense of movement and dynamics within sculpture provides it with its own life and vitality.  She tries to capture this in all her pieces, transforming inert materials into sculptures with a visible, tangible energy.

Wire sculpture is a complete addiction for new exhibitor, Hayley Jones, a self-taught artist. “I love the sky and the sea, nature the colours and creatures, flowers and plants, trees of our natural world, I love my garden and my two pet ducks, I love wood and metal especially Rust.”

Colleen du Pon is a metal sculptor and artist blacksmith originally from Canada and now living in Bridport, West Dorset on England’s Jurassic Coast. She earned a BA in Silversmithing and Metalwork at Camberwell College of Arts in London where she enrolled to pursue her dream of becoming a Jeweller, but fell in love with Blacksmithing and working hot iron and spent most of her time at the forge and anvil. She was awarded the Bruce Church Travel Scholarship in 2002 and has travelled extensively, working directly with nomadic Blacksmiths in India. Colleen has been working as an Artist Blacksmith and Metal Sculptor since 2007.

Colleen produces a range of work, blending forging with hand, hammer and anvil, with contemporary metalworking processes to create works in mild steel, from functional items to sculpture and architectural work to commission

Another new exhibitor is Valda Jackson who was born in Blue Mountains, Jamaica and came to England at the age of five to join her parents and settle in Birmingham. She studied BA Fine Art in Bristol and post-graduate studies in Cardiff.

Her drawing, painting and sculpture are internationally renowned and she has been commissioned for a number of major public sculpture projects in Newmarket, Suffolk, Newport, Wales and Bristol. Her paintings have been shown at the National Portrait Gallery in London, Royal West of on England Academy, Bristol and numerous private galleries.

Valda has lectured in painting and sculpture at the University of Central England, Birmingham, and at various schools and colleges. Working with children and young people is an ongoing passion and inspiration. She has been artist in residence in various schools, children's centres and community organisations where she has focused on language development and creativity. The primary aim being to develop the creative life of the school; working with the staff, the children and their parents and carers.

Ceramicist, Renee Kilburn, moved from Sweden to England in 1994 to study Ceramic Design at Central Saint Martin’s in London. During the summers, she worked as an assistant to ceramic artist Kate Malone. Her chosen material is white stoneware that is glazed in a white gloss glaze and fired to 1260 after the bisque firing. She then paints the piece in hand mixed earthenware glazes to achieve the brilliant colours.

Kathryn Shorthouse has been attending the Bristol School of Art part time ceramics courses for more than ten years. Her  work on show is inspired from spending time on a beautiful farm, in Devon, watching how the sun light changes and dances through the trees, creating different shadows and shapes throughout the day.

Other sculptors returning this year with plenty of new creations include Lucianne Lassalle (bronze) Jude Goss, Adele Christensen and Aurora Pozniakow (glass artists), Karen Edwards and Jitka Palmer (ceramics), Daren Greenhow (steel), Frankie Hudson (mosaics) Willa Ashworth (metalwork), Jeremy Baines and Christine Baxter (ceramics).

Willow weaver, Maya Wolfe, will also be teaching visitors her craft and helping them create willow sculptures to take home to their garden.

Download the full Easter sculpture programme (PDF, 641kB) 

Refreshments provided by the wonderful Chandos Deli.

Admission: Adults £6.50 with gift aid (£5.90 without). Free to Friends of the Garden, University staff and students and children under 18.

Denius Parson at work

Sun worshipper by Christine Baxter