Let’s hear it for the artists.

by Alice Maltby, Voluntary Marketing and Publicity Officer, University of Bristol Botanic Garden

Toni Burrows, The Arches fox.

Sculpture is alive and well during lockdown. Behind closed doors, the kilns have still been busy firing up; stained glass scored, cut and soldered; bronze statues polished and ideas for new prototypes conceived.

While most of their shows have been cancelled and the sculptors have missed the interaction with their audience, much of an artist’s life is a solitary one, so they have been able to use their time creatively.

Hopefully we shall see their new ideas next Easter (2022). However if you are racking your brains because you cannot find the ideal present, have a look at the sculptors’ websites.

Carboniferous limestone giants striding through a prehistoric forest, the delicate sounds of ceramic Zen bells chiming on trees, mosaic foxes and the mesmerising sight of the potter’s wheel were all planned features of this year’s postponed Sculpture Festival.

New sculptors expected to exhibit next year include Toni Burrows, Simon Probyn, Sonya Wilkins and Geoff Hannis.

Mention mosaic foxes and many visitors will think of the unique creations of mosaic artist, Toni Burrows, a long term participant in the North Bristol Arts Trail. Her pieces are on a large scale and comprised of thousands of tiny pieces and found objects, which are inspired by stories. She has written and illustrated a short book entitled “The Last Apple on the Tree. Two of her mosaic pieces were chosen as images for the Gloucester Road Art Banners project.

Toni studied Fine Art to degree level at Trent Polytechnic, Nottingham where her creative focus was mostly life painting and drawing. She began to make mosaics 20 years ago, her first inspiration being a small tile of a starfish that a friend had made. She loved the vibrancy of the coloured pieces set off by the darkness of the wet grout, rather, like lead sets off glass in a stained glass window. Since then she has incorporated many other 3 dimensional pieces into her work: broken crockery, glass, jewellery, shells, stones and other recycled or found objects.

Sonya Wilkins produces delicate ginkgo and lily leaf dishes, hanging wall planters and plant nests, inspired by her travels to faraway places. Sonya qualified from the University of West of England with a BA (Hons) in Ceramics in 1995. Having spent many years creating in different genres of art alongside her career and family, she now works as a professional full-time ceramicist from her two studios in Bristol. Sonya combines two of her passions in her artwork, namely clay and nature. She forages leaves from local arboretums, woodland and her own flourishing garden using their impression to inform her work. Layers of glaze are used to mimic the colours of the changing seasons and transitory beauty.

Simon Probyn is a sculptor who works using heavy industrial steel. Based in rural Herefordshire. he creates abstract and figurative works of art from both found and new material. He takes the man-made architectural steel designs and lets them subtly dictate their new purpose. Simon came late to sculpting, having spent 30 years in unrelated employment. original artwork. “I revel in being my own boss, working within art and on my own bespoke designs”. With collectors nationally and internationally, he has worked extensively with landscape designers, collaborating in the design of award winning gardens with members of The Royal Horticultural Society at Chelsea, Hampton Court Palace and Malvern.

Joanna Williams, blacksmith.

Wood turner, Geoff Hannis pays homage to the beauty of wood, while demonstrating his green woodworking skills. Wood turning is the craft of using a wood lathe with hand-held tools to cut a shape that is symmetrical around the axis of rotation. Observers of this ancient craft feel a similar feeling of awe experienced when watching a potter’s wheel in action.

Ceramic sculptures add great pleasure to any garden. Renee Kilburn moved from Sweden to England in 1994 to study Ceramic Design at London’s Central Saint Martins. Her chosen material is white stoneware that is glazed in a white gloss glaze and fired to 1260 after the bisque firing. She then paints the piece in hand mixed earthenware glazes to achieve the brilliant colours.

Karen Edwards has been busy expanding her studio at Barley Wood Walled Garden, Wrington. Amongst her new designs is the ceramic head of Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships.

Hayley Jones, wirework.

Ceramicist and painter, Jeremy Baines has a small collection of dried seed-heads and pods which provide an endless source of forms suitable for adapting into ceramics. Kathryn Shorthouse’s work is inspired from her time on a Devon farm watching how the sunlight changes to create different shadows and shapes throughout the day.

Christine Baxter, figurative sculptor, works predominantly in clay, but also directly into plaster and wax. She then casts her work into bronze, bronze resin, iron resin and stone.

Other sculptors busy working on new creations include Lucianne Lassalle (bronze), Jude Goss (stained glass), Adele Christensen and Aurora Pozniakow (glass art), Darren Greenhow (steel); Willa Ashworth (metalwork) Frankie Hudson (mosaics); Joanna Williams (artist blacksmith); Hayley Jones (wirework); Louise Boulton (botanical art); Denise Stirrup (pressed flower art) and Sophie Howard (bronze and ceramics).

So, while we’re unable to host these wonderful artists this year, check out their work and look out for them here at the Garden in 2022. Click here for a full list of artists.




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