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Valentines Mansion & Gardens Jubilee Commission

Date uploaded: April 4, 2012

Valentines Mansion & Gardens Jubilee Commission

Work started last week on the new Dry Garden at Valentines Mansion - a contemporary space created in celebration of The Queen’s forthcoming visit to the mansion. An addition to the existing historic landscape, this project is the first major piece of planting in Valentines Mansion & Gardens since the Rose Garden in the 1870s.

A public art commission will form part of this new space. The new scheme has been designed by visual artist Fiona Heron, and features a family of sculptures which are intended to work in harmony with the surrounding gardens and symbolise the history of the outdoor space.

Sculptural reeds, rushes and flowers made from a variety of materials including solid glass sit in harmony within the natural planting, echoing and reflecting the rich colours of the new flowers and plants. As well as the sculptures that will stand tall amongst the plants, Fiona has designed a number of ‘hidden’ pieces just waiting to be discovered. Visitors with a keen eye will spot bronze and silver handcrafted nests as well as bronze casts taken from actual conkers and acorns nestled among the planting.

The dry garden planting scheme has been designed by Simon Litt, Valentines Park Manager and Stephen Smith, a former Parks Apprentice who is now a trained horticulturalist. Working in collaboration with Fiona, the three have designed a unique space for visitors to enjoy gardens, nature and art.

As Fiona comments “It has been a very close working with the mansion's horticulturalist and designers, Simon and Stephen. I hope visitors will feel that there is a natural flow between nature and art.”

Although this is a new way of displaying art within Redbridge, it’s a format tried and tested by artist Fiona many a time, having designed a number of ‘sculptural gardens’ over the years for international competitions: “As an artist and landscape architect, I always work in an integrated way with planting and art interventions so that the effect compliments the space and is seen as whole rather than a competing element” says Fiona.

Jane Leighton, Arts Development Officer for Redbridge commented: ”It is an exciting time for public art in Redbridge with major projects underway at Gants Hill, South Woodford and as part of the Pioneer Point development in Ilford. Redbridge is committed to embedding public art not just within the built environment but the natural landscape as well and this project is an example of an inspiring collaboration between Valentines Parks Manager Simon Litt, visual artist Fiona Heron and Stephen Smith local horticulturist and garden designer. Fiona who herself trained as a landscape architect has brought this knowledge and expertise to the project working alongside Simon and Stephen. This sensitive site specific approach lends itself to the natural beauty of the mansion and surroundings and is a welcome addition to the borough’s public art portfolio.”

Fiona also gave a talk to students from Valentines High School with a particular interest in art, including a site visit to give them a real appreciation of the project.

The dry garden will be open as part of the London Pride Festival, taking place between Thursday 29th March and Sunday 1st April. For full details including times please visit www.redbridge.gov.uk/jubilee.

For more information on the project including images visit our Valentines Mansion & Gardens Facebook Page and for more information on Fiona Heron please visit www.fionaheron.com.

Visit www.redbridge.gov.uk/jubilee

Dry Garden

Dry Garden