Friday, 1 June 2012

What an extraordinary week.

Hard to believe that the show is over, what an utterly fantastic week.  The build up phase was tough but fun, largely due to my world-class build team who put in some mammoth shifts with only comedic grumbling.  The show week was a blur but I loved every moment of it, discussing sculpture with the public, designers, architects and artists.  Our pieces were hugely tactile, seeing people react to them was extraordinary - touching, smelling, one man even hugged our sequoia dodecahedron.

During the build the whole site was a buzzing hive of controlled energy, the lengths some organisations had gone to to install beautiful spaces for such a short period was truly breathtaking and inspiring.  Huge excavations, fully realised water features and walls, monstrous construction machines and armies of helpers swarmed across the site.  The feeling was one of 'all in it together', everyone pitching in and offering help or materials where possible, from the largest designers to the first timers like us.  Andrew and Joshua poured their hearts into the build and their focus, bordering on obsession, was incredible. 

The long days seemed to fly by, everyone involved was buzzing from the overload of stimulae; the monster cranes and scaffolding puncturing the sky, the speed with which master craftsmen were constructing walls, paths, streams, if you could not get energized around these people then exterior design is possibly not for you.

We completed our build a day before the deadline and I must say that I felt a paternal sense of pride in my new baby.  The elegant pathway, contemporary office, gorgeous sculpture and surprisingly thin planting (the invoice for plants suggested that I'd have far too many) all looked rather wonderful.  The weather reports could not have been better, my shoes were polished and alarm clock set for an ungodly hour.

The week then seemingly flew by in about 12 minutes.

Looking back I can see that a lot happened, I met Rob Brydon, Andy Sturgeon said that he thought one of our sculptures was incredible (I almost punched the air but played it cool).  We were invited to show at the Philadelphia Flower Show, the largest in the US at 350,000 people, following a chance meeting with the organisers.  Hugely exciting, we plan to do a series of shows up the east coast after the show ends.  The Queen very nearly walked past our stand, which would have made for a fantastic photo, but she swerved at the last.  Goldie fell in love with Walter Bailey's work, James Purefoy and I had a 'Sequoia Fact Off', we sold several pieces and made some great new friends.

My talented and glamorous assistants during the week were fantastic; Verity, Sophie and Heather were the epitome of relaxed charm.  They helped shoulder the burden during the stressful periods and mocked me when I became repetitive/ overly excited.    

My wonderful immediate neighbour was Alan Gardener, his "Out Of The Blue" show garden was only bettered by his exceptional banter and camaraderie.  I've made a great friend there and consider myself very fortunate.  The supremely talented designer of the Renault garden, James Basson, has also become a great friend over a very short period.  He and his charming wife Helen were oases of calm amongst the furore, the pair a quintessentially English couple living in Southern France.  I want their life (and James' tweed 3 piece).

There are far too many people to mention and thank, to be honest it's too early to process many of the wonderful meetings and experiences over the past month.  However, I must say a huge thank you to the RHS for their support and good nature.  Everyone involved was simply charming and helpful, without their help none of this could have happened.  I've got the bug, sign me up for next year and I hope to see you all there.

Below is a short film I made to capture the week:

Chelsea highlights

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