View all news

Come and bird spot at this year’s Botanic Garden Sculpture Festival

Blacksmith Joanna Willliams Bob Foster

Press release issued: 22 March 2016

Ceramic bird houses, Trojan horses’ heads, fountains and stained glass creations are just a few pieces on show at this year’s University of Bristol Botanic Garden Sculpture Festival.

The Sculpture Festival, which has become a regular event for families, as well as art and garden lovers, will take place from Good Friday [March 25] to Easter Monday [March 28] from 10 am to 5 pm.

This year there will be ironwork demonstrations from blacksmith Joanna Willliams of the Underfall Yard in Bristol, and Martyna Zoltaszek, creator of the Botanic Garden’s Shaun of the Jungle and one of the Jamaica Street Artists, will explain her creative processes.  Inspired by the natural world, Jo Whiteland will be showing the Malaysian technique of batik where selected areas of cloth are blocked out by brushing or drawing hot wax over them, and the cloth is then dyed.

Visitors will also be able to try their hand at throwing pots as ceramicist Tez Roberts is bringing her potter’s wheel for the first time. After Tez graduated from Wolverhampton in 2003 she set up the community arts group, Labyrinth Arts and she now has a studio in the Forest of Dean using a variety of firing methods including Raku and stoneware.

Nicholas Wray, Curator of the Botanic Garden said: “The natural world has inspired the artists to make the varied and innovative pieces of artwork that will be on show at the festival. I am delighted that the Botanic Garden environment has provided so much opportunity and enjoyment for these local artists to display their work.

“Some of the artwork will be made during the exhibition, which together with the garden bursting into life will create the perfect environment for visitors to enjoy.”

On Easter Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday [27 and 28 March], willow weaver Maya Wolfe will inspire visitors to create sculptures, such as damsel flies and butterflies, to take home with them. Maya is a Bath-based artist whose work spans many forms, from sculpture and site specific installation to carnival costume, structures and puppetry.

The glasshouses this year will become an aviary with a display of birds taking up residence. Zoe Cameron has invited 20 artists and designers to create birds from materials as diverse as recycled plastic, bike parts, wood, steel and clay to flourish in the tropical paradise. A special bird spotter’s guide will help people identify the different birds. Visitors will also be able to buy and rehome a starling with all proceeds going to charities working in the current refugee crisis.

Gloucestershire-based artist and clay sculptor, Peter Garrard, will exhibit at the Festival for the first time with his ornate bird houses and war horse heads, by sculptor Philip Thompson, will stand guard at the Moon Gate entrance to the Chinese Herb Garden.  Philip chooses stainless steel for its reflective and contemporary qualities and bronze for its patination effects, while Lynda Radford of the Glass Collective uses recycled glass to make the discarded beautiful.

An exhibition of paintings of rare plants growing in the Avon Gorge and other sites in South West England, including a collection of 13 different species of Sorbus Trees, one of which is the Bristol Whitebeam will be on display.

The botanical artists participating are: Annie Morris, Andrea Pomroy, Erica Thomas, Jenny Brooks, Anne Girling and Fiona Williams. The paintings are not for sale but each day one of the artists will be demonstrating and will have cards for sale and prints produced from any of the paintings in the cafe area.

Joining the Festival again this year will be the ceramic garden sculptures of Karen Edwards, as well as the stone sculptures of Jitka Palmer inspired by stories and themes. Also in the Garden will be the stained glass of Jude Goss and Aurora Pozniakow, with 3D glass displays from Adele Christensen, and the rusty steel garden sculptures of Willa Ashworth will be on show and available to buy.

Tours of the Garden will take place throughout the day and refreshments will be available while the event is running.

The Sculpture Festival at the University of Bristol Botanic Garden will take place from Good Friday, 25 March until Easter Monday, 28 March from 10 am to 5 pm. Refreshments, tours of the garden and demonstrations will be available.

Entry to the Botanic Garden Sculpture Festival is £4.50 adults; free to University staff and retired staff, Friends of the Botanic Garden, students and children under 16.

Further information

About the Botanic Garden
The Botanic Garden has a strong evolutionary theme and cultivates over 4,500 plant species forming four core collections that illustrate plant evolution, plants from Mediterranean climates, useful plants and rare and threatened native plants to the Bristol area. 

Star attractions include an amazing dell demonstrating the evolution of land plants including the dinosaurs’ favourite plants: ginkgos, cycads, tree ferns, monkey puzzles and Wolly, the Wollemi Pine.  Other delights include the Chinese and Western herb gardens and an inspiring display of plants illustrating floral diversity. 

Opening times
The Garden is open from 10 am until 4.30 pm.

March: Open Monday to Friday, closed weekends until Friday 25 March when the garden opens for the Easter Sculpture Festival.
April to October: Open seven days a week.
November: Open Monday to Friday, closed on weekends.
December: Open Monday to Friday, closed on weekends and from 24 until 31 December.

Admission is £4.50 adults; free to University staff and retired staff, Friends of the Botanic Garden, students and children under 16.

Teas served from the Devers room in the Holmes will be available on the terrace over Easter, at weekends until the end of May, seven days a week during June, July, August, and September and at weekends in October for garden visitors.

Dogs (except registered disability assistance dogs) are not permitted in the Botanic Garden.

The garden is largely accessible for wheelchairs and mobility scooters with a designated path leading around the garden and glasshouses. Disabled toilet facilities are available on site.

Pre-booked guided tours of the garden for groups of ten upwards are available seven days a week.  Please contact the garden for further information.  There is a charge for the guide.

Directions to the Botanic Garden
From the city centre go to the top of Whiteladies Road, at the junction and traffic lights go straight ahead across Durdham Down towards Stoke Bishop. At the traffic lights go straight ahead and take the first turning on the right into Stoke Park Road, The Botanic Garden at the Holmes is 150 m on the right.

Members of the public wishing to support the work of the Botanic Garden should join the Friends of the Garden. For more information go to the Friends of the Botanic Garden or write to Susan Redfern, The Membership Secretary, 24 Dublin Crescent, Henleaze, Bristol BS9 4NA.

Edit this page