Open Studios Open Air Sculpture Exhibitions at Donnington Grove and Shaw House

by Jim Crockatt

It has been a total joy to have had the privilege to set up and curate the Donnington Grove and Shaw House Open Studios Open Air Sculpture Exhibitions.

The venues are exceptional in totally different ways.

The Japanese Garden at Donnington Grove has 31 sculptures set within the beautiful garden amongst and around the main feature which is the pond bordered by the rockery.

I would like to mention a few of the sculptures within, the rest you can discover for yourself.

Here Diccon Dadey has erected a stupendous Leaping Dolphin leaping into the pond cladded in stainless steel fish profiles. He has another piece called Swooping Owl elsewhere in the garden.

A beautiful Bittern by Paul Harvey in cold cast marble surveys the pond life to the left and directly opposite over the pond is “Bird Bathing Pod” by Lone Hudson, a ceramic ball elegantly supported on a tripod of copper piping. Drawing your eye across the pond are three stone Preening Birds nesting on rocks reflecting in the water below and to the right are three small, but perfectly formed faces depicting various attitudes of reflection. Between the works by Gill Reeve is one of three turned hardwood pods by Jim Crockatt.

To the front of the pond placed against a backdrop of reeds are three vessels by Belinda Gizzi, highly textured, encrusted with what appears to resemble clinker from boats as they venture into the sea hence the title Here come the Buoys. To the left of the vessels is a simple but impressive burnt oak sculpture by Michael Fairfax called Svartur meaning black in Norwegian and on the small premonitory out onto the pond attached to boulder is a beautiful tableaux of a shoal of fish.

To the far left of this pondscape are two arresting pieces by Gavin Wilkinson Haircare and Supercharged depicting how a waste product can be reclaimed showing its aesthetic qualities in a different and rediscovered context.

As you enter the garden in front of you your eyes sweep up the avenue to the two sculptures by Ben Norman called Metal Box and Marble Box. As the name suggests two simple shaped boxes letting the rigour of the materials speak for themselves.

Halfway up the avenue is a splendid Oak and Cedar bench crafted by Colin Underhay.

As you enter the garden on the left of the entrance is a Sound of Wind sculpture by Michael Fairfax an elegant horizontal harp and also within this space are two cold cast marble bird sculptures by Paul Harvey, a Standing Man by Martin Eastabrook and others for you to discover.

As we venture forth into the house itself we enter into the courtyard within which holds some more pleasures for you. A stunning array of angelic men in flight called Ladylovelywings by Melissa Cole between which is a magnificent bronze resin boxer called Lennox pears into the bar, behind which a delightful series of Ceramic Borders by Martin Eastabrook and on the left a fine chair by Colin Underhay.

Shaw House presents us with another awesome array of sculptural diversity and magnificence on the Orangery lawn in front of the visitors’ entrance. First up are two metal pieces called Landscape in metal depicting her perception of the landscape that she rides through.

Adjacent too are two delicate Sentinels by Martin Eastabrook survey the lawn and indeed a swirl of colourful pods beneath the oak by Jim Crockatt and once again two magnificent works by Paul Harvey grace this space, Tawney Owl and Little Owl. Gavin Wilkinson’s contribution to this space is Residues, a series of plastic bottles filled with colourful liquid bound together placed on a mirror testify as to the beauty of throwaway items given a new lease of life and Handcut a plastic block hand carved into a convex shape recessed within, a piece of convex clear plastic.

On your way to the entrance is a giant chessboard and accompanying pieces in concrete by Ben Norman on the right and opposite to the left is a truly magnificent bust of Charles 1 by the talented Diana Pattenden.

On May 26 at 11am Jim Crockatt will be on Peaches Quest on Radio Berkshire talking about the Shaw House Sculpture Exhibition.

The Open Studios directory of artists is now out with full details of all the artists exhibiting and their opening times. You can get a free copy in public libraries, the Corn Exchange and other local venues and the artists themselves. Or you can visit the Open Studios website, www.open-studios.org.uk.

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