Meadow Flowers At Chiswick House Gardens

Hosts art installation as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad

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Paul Cummins installing the meadow flowers Picture: Anna Kunst

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A landmark installation of hundreds of ceramic Meadow Flowers has been opened in Chiswick House as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

The work is by Derbyshire-based ceramic artist Paul Cummins and can be seen scattered along the bowl-shaped terraced ‘Orange Tree ‘ garden in front the Ionic temple.

Each flower-head is shaped like a miniature bowl, and has been individually hand-formed by Paul in his Derbyshire studio, in colours of white, blue, black and yellow, glazed, and then mounted on steel metal rods. The motion of the wind will create a waving pattern, giving the impression of an English meadow and the flowers will reflect in the pond in front of the temple, creating a romantic vista.

The installation will remain at Chiswick House until May 27th.

However, there was something of a last-minute crisis in getting the display ready when the artist’s studio in Derbyshire was broken into and nearly 2,000 of his ceramic flowers smashed and thrown around the floor. It was extremely upsetting for Paul who had spent months getting the installation together- the flowers had been packed into boxes ready for transportation.

“I had to stay up at night until 5am to make enough for the display and get them to Chiswick House on time “ said the 33-year old artist, who has now created 12,500 flowers which will become part of seven installations throughout the country. The prestigious locations include Blenheim Palace, Castle Howard, Althorp, The Secret Gardens of Sandwich and the Houses of Parliament. Each location will have a different’ flower’ as part of its display and Chiswick House has the honour of being the first.

Paul, who is severely dyslexic (“I see colours not words”), originally trained as an architect and says he is inspired by the natural world in his work.

The location chosen for the installation is an amphitheatre which surrounds the recently-restored Ionic Temple designed by Lord Burlington. The temple originally housed three Roman statues until they were moved to the Exedra. At the bottom of the garden is a circular pool with an obelisk in the centre.

Picture: Anna Kunst

Originally laid out as an Orange Tree Garden with trees in tubs on the terraces it was felt to be the ideal location for the display.

Volunteers braved the inclement weather to tastefully scatter the ‘ flowers’ in bunches along the terraces in time for the opening. The public will not be allowed inside the railings to see or touch the installation, for health and safety reasons. Signs directing visitors to the spot will be put up shortly.

The Director of the Chiswick House Gardens Trust , Sarah Finch-Crisp, said they were very excited to be part of the Cultural Olympiad.

She paid tribute to Paul for his vision and energy in creating every flower head individually, and for his refusal not to be “defeated” by the vandalism of his studio.

“The display you see today will shortly be increasing with another lovely drift.”

"The installation is a new departure for Chiswick House and Gardens and we had much discussion about the ideal position for the display. I hope people agree that this location with its temple, pond, obelisk and terraced garden is a perfect setting.”

The temple and garden were the creation of 3rd Earl of Burlington, the owner and architect of Chiswick House in the early 18th Century. His influence on architectural and landscape garden design are widely acknowledged and celebrated.

The English Flower Garden has been commissioned by the Unlimited programme, which encourages partnerships between disability and mainstream arts organisations to create original works ,as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. It is funded by the National Lottery and London 2012, as well as the Arts Council and The British Council.

The London 2012 Cultural Olympiad is the largest cultural celebration in the history of the modern Olympic and Paralympic movement and is designed to give everyone in the UK a chance to be part of London 2012.

The culmination will be the London 2012 Festival, a twelve week national celebration of visual arts, fashion, film, dance and theatre, from Midsummers Day on June21 st to the final day of the Paralympic Games on 9th September.


April 25, 2012