Friday, 24 April 2009

Sam - who looks after the garden

For the last five years Sam Garness has been developing the garden/estate at Bevere Knoll, a fine Georgian family residence, on the outskirts of Worcester and adjacent to ‘The Gallery at Bevere’ a converted coach house, stable and chicken house. She trained at Pershore College gaining an RHS Certificate, National Award in Garden Design and an HNC in Professional Gardening. Alongside me, the owner of Bevere Knoll, they have been working with the gallery’s exhibitions team to put together the 2009 ‘Gallery in the Garden Show’.

Part of the garden was recently fenced off which enables the Gallery at Bevere to hold a sculpture trail through this acre of old shrubs, canopy of laurels and mature trees including a large oak with a lovely spreading habit. This, in the spring has an abundance of wild daffodils and crocus growing underneath it and here also stands a ‘flock of sheep’ (ceramic).

An impressive dead oak, where two very old gravestones stand underneath dedicated to ‘old faithful’ has a Solanum and Rosa Paul’s Himalayan Musk growing up. This part of the garden is now in a semi wild state, wild flowers have been planted under the oak, which was done in an experimental way by placing cardboard over the grass, soil over this and then planting plugs into the soil, which hopefully will allow the plugs to establish before the grass and weeds grow through. We wait with bated breath.

Originally an old apple tree stood in the centre of the grass, which fell down two years ago for no apparent reason! I like to replace a tree when one has gone so several unusual specimens have been planted on the edge of woodland around the lawn area. -

A ‘grassery ‘ has also been planted, but due to difficulties with moles some of the grasses have been lost, so they are to be replaced this year. Among these grasses stands a fabulous ancient ‘Judas Tree’ (Cercis siliquastrum) and located on the side of the drive there is a very fine example of ‘Weeping Holly’ which is thought to be at least a l00 years old.

Yew trees frame small areas of the owner’s private garden allowing glimpses through to the flower borders and more manicured lawn with palms and a fig tree bordering a large pond, which is home to very large ghost carp.

The sculptures are sympathetically sited around. On the trail, some ‘hidden’ in the atmospheric laurel woods, some in full resplendence on the lawns and amongst the bushes.

Whether professional or amateur gardener, the Gallery in the Garden has plenty to inspire and excite - a winning marriage of nature and man made delights.

We are looking forward to June when the garden opens again.

The Gallery and Garden Sculpture Trail
Saturday 6th June – Sunday 30th August
An exhibition and sale of garden sculptures

Friday, 10 April 2009


Saturday 4th – Sunday 26th April
An exhibition of ceramics, bronze and paintings

Frank and Janet Hamer Jane and Ted Hamlyn
Nigel and Libby Edmondson Alasdair and Sally MacDonell
David and Margaret Frith John and Jude Jelfs
Claire Harrison and Petr Horacek

Stuart Dickens Ceramics Curator for The Gallery says, ‘Here is a show, which provides an opportunity to reflect on the individual voice of artist and craftsman and the mutuality and synergy that comes from years of shared work and life.’

This exhibition was created from an initial thought about artists and makers who have shared their lives and their studios over many years. Whilst partners inevitably share common interests, this show is designed to demonstrate how their individual personalities are reflected in their work.

Frank and Janet Hamer have become something of a legend in studio ceramics through their joint authorship of The Potter’s Dictionary of Materials and Techniques, which explains the sources and character of materials, the behaviour of clays and glaze minerals during the forming and firing processes, They share a workshop and kiln in rural Wales and both are clearly influenced by the surrounding countryside and wildlife.

Jane and Ted Hamlyn will rarely, if ever, have been seen in the same show – other than their Open Studio days. Ted’s paintings are a perfect backdrop for Jane’s immediately recognisable vessels. Jane Hamlyn’s work has been regularly shown at the gallery since she featured in the Gallery’s opening show in May 2006. There is a palpable synergy between Jane and Ted’s work, which is evident in both texture and palette.

Nigel and Libby Edmondson have been seen regularly sharing a pitch at Hatfield or Oxford Ceramics, however Libby’s paintings, which are now the main focus for her creative energy, have been seen less frequently alongside Nigel’s pots. Again, their work sits well with each other and the strong brushwork and striking colour of the paintings is a perfect foil for the earth tones of Nigel’s pots.

Alasdair and Sally MacDonell are seen together at all the major shows. There is a strong interpersonal dynamic here; both use the human form to great effect and both are clearly strongly influenced by tribal art and a world view of art and sculpture.

David and Margaret Frith – the Friths, as they are often jointly referred to – are two of the most respected potters in the UK. They are nearly always seen together and whilst this exhibition is doing nothing new in that respect, there is an opportunity to reflect on the influence of each upon the other. Their individual work is different and both are great craftsmen in their own right.

John and Jude Jelfs is another of the classic partnerships in studio pottery. Their work is starkly different and as Jude herself has said John can get very dirty indeed when he is working whilst she needs an immaculately clean studio. Jude has focussed on bronze over the last year or two and this is producing imaginative and quirky small-scale pieces. In the meantime, John the master craftsman – get him talking about teapot making – continues to produce some of the most luminous pots in the stoneware tradition in the UK.

Claire Harrison and Petr Horacek
In 1989 Claire walked into a studio in Prague Academy, as part of her studies in fine art and drawing, and met Petr, they have shared a studio ever since! Now with their two daughters too. Petr is an Award winning children’s’ author and illustrator and Claire a teacher in local Worcester schools, this exhibition brings together a selection of new work from the couple, Claire’s abstracted garden scenes and Petr’s exciting contemporary abstracts his alter ego to his children’s illustrative work

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Curator's Choice - Pot of the Month - April 2009

TAKESHI YASUDA's Porceain Bowl no. 2303

Stuart Dickens is the Gallery at Bevere’s Ceramic Curator.

He admits to this being his third career and arguably the most satisfying. Initially working in the pottery at Bevere after his retirement, it was his lifelong interest in ceramics and his knowledge of pots and potters that led to him becoming a member of the Gallery team arranging the Gallery’s extensive programme of exhibitions.

His choice is clearly a personal one but hopefully it will always feature an exceptional and distinctive voice in studio ceramics.

This month’s choice is an easy one to make. There are only a handful of potters working in the UK whose work evokes immediate recognition and critical acclaim, amongst them is Takeshi Yasuda, who, in the words of Paul Rice in his book British Studio Ceramics, “is now one of the finest Oriental potters working in Britain”.

This pot is one which has come from the Jingdezhen Pottery Workshop Experimental Factory in China where Takeshi has been the Director for over two years.

What makes this work special? The Yasuda hallmarks are all here – the loose organic throwing which takes the vessel almost to the point of collapse; the luminescence of the celadon glaze and in this case the precision of the gold decoration, which covers the inside of the pot with an ‘oh so precise’ meeting with the lip.

Sensual is the word often used to describe his work and this is a certainly a sensuous vessel. This pot has great presence. It needs space and the status which should be accorded to the great, rather than the merely good pot. This is the work of a master potter who has complete control of his material and the consummate skill to fully express his imagination.