I’ve been in Stratford-upon-Avon this past weekend, meeting up with my dear friend Rachel. On Sunday the weather cleared enough for us to enjoy a visit to Shakespeare’s New Place, Museum and Gardens. I had been very excited about seeing these gardens as they are a work of art. Inspired by the works of Shakespeare, the gardens were created by a collective of artists, landscapers, theatre-makers and volunteers. The words of Shakespeare are inscribed within this landscape on pendants, sculptures, benches and on the paving stones.
Meandering through the gardens was truly inspiring! It’s also fully accessible for wheelchair users, which I hope can inspire other UK visitor attractions! This stunning centrepiece is a circle of twenty-six hornbeams (one for every play written at New Place) that encircles the sculpture His Mind’s Eye by Jill Berelwitz. The bent bronze tree could surely have braved The Tempest and expresses Shakespeare’s creativity, the sheer force of his genius. From this angle it seemed to me to be like looking at a giant eye. Perhaps the eye of the storm?
Shakespeare was at his most creative during the nineteen years that New Place was the family home. That creativity lives on in the gardens now. Even more inspirational is that work only began here two years ago, for the four-hundredth anniversary of Shakespeare’s passing. Beyond the yew walk, the Great Gardens are surrounded by the most extraordinary sculptures by Greg Wyatt, each one depicting a Shakespeare play. I think I will find something new in each of them every time I visit. It was tempting to re-ennact a scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Rachel and I enjoyed the Wild Bank at the end of the garden. We both performed the play at sixth form college, I was typecast as the short but feisty Hermia and Rachel was a woodland fairy. Many happy memories were relived during our visit and I know we’ll be back!
I found these beautiful blues in the Sunken Knot Garden, at Shakespeare’s New Place, in Stratford-upon-Avon this weekend. The gardens are entrancing; a combination of art, sculpture, the written word and planting that takes vistors on a journey around the grounds, that New Place once stood upon, and through the plays and sonnets of Shakespeare himself. This blue poppy anemone really took my breath away so I wanted to share it for this week’s Fotospeed challenge.
Today marks the 400th Anniversary of William Shakespeare‘s death. It’s also 452 years since his birth! Forget St George, for me Shakespeare is our National Bard and I have decided to honour him with an artistic composite, picturing one of the Nation’s favourite birds, the wren. I had a few glorious moments with this beautiful little bird, early in the morning a week ago along the canal. The birdsong was such a delight and this wren kept me on my toes for a bit, flitting back and forth from one side of the canal to the other! I’ll share my other (more original) images another day as he really was a funny little character.
So why a wren you ask? Well I wanted to represent one of Shakespeare’s famous quotes within a typically English style landscape. I could have gone with a rose, a horse, a skull, the moon (done that one!), a crown, three witches, a dagger, a spot, an ass, a wall, two bees, a stage, a pound of flesh, lawyers, love (repeatedly) or dreams. Phew! But no, there’s a quote from Richard III that was astute at the time and still holds true today I think. One of The Bard’s many cutting comments on the nature of people. Wrens are fast and furious with their chatter!
Richard III by William Shakespeare
(Act I, Scene III) Gloucester to Queen Elizabeth
“The world is grown so bad, that wrens make prey where eagles dare not perch”
One of the things that I love most about Henry Moore sculptures is that they were made to work in concert with the outdoors.
The original design for King and Queen was made in 1952 and several sculptures were cast between 1952 and 53. One is now on display outside the RHS Wisley Laboratory, overlooking the Canal. The sculpture will be in the garden until the end of September 2014.
“Whilst manipulating a piece of this wax, it began to look like a horned, Pan-like, bearded head. Then it grew a crown and I recognised it immediately as the head of a king. I added a second figure to it and it became a ‘King and Queen’. I realise now that it was because I was reading stories to Mary, my six year old daughter, every night, and most of them were about kings and queens and princesses . . . ” Henry Moore
The setting for any sculpture brings added meaning to the piece, it influences the way we experience it. Set here in these beautiful grounds they have become, for me, an Oberon and Titania. I imagine them coming alive when all visitors have gone and dancing through their garden realm, rejoicing in the fauna and flora, hastening on the arrival of Spring.
“Hand in hand, with fairy grace, Will we sing, and bless this place” Titania – A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare