Well, the days are getting longer and, after months of wearing at least 5 layers, my thoughts are starting to turn to Spring. This one promises to be a fun one.
I was contacted last year by a wonderful garden designer, the rather appropriately-named Alan Gardener. He will soon be seen on Chanel 4's prime time show "The Autistic Gardener", and had been selected by Viking River Cruises to design their show garden at this year's Chelsea Flower Show.
The brief was to commission a new piece of art inspired by some element of the Viking pantheon of Gods. What a fantastic brief, and the clean and modern aesthetic of the garden drawings were exactly up our street.
I selected a number of artists who worked in mediums that would compliment the materials of the garden and, after a very difficult tendering process with some fantastic submissions, ended up selecting a piece by the fantastic Patrick Hurst.
Patrick was inspired by the story of Njord and Skadi, the God of the sea and Goddess of the Mountains. The giantess Skadi journied to the halls of the Gods to seek revenge for the death of her father, but was instead persuaded to accept reparations.
Rather hysterically this in part involved the Gods making her laugh, which Loki managed by tying one end of a length of rope to his testicles and the other to a goat, with whom he then engaged in a tug of war.
The other reparation was her choice of God to wed, chosen based on looking at their feet alone. She mistakenly selected Njord, with whom she had a rather short and incompatible marriage...
"They first went to live at her father’s home in Jotunheim. However, the howling of the wolves and the wind were too loud for Njord to sleep, and after nine nights they left. Next they went to his home at Noatun, but Skadi could not sleep there for the crying of the seagulls, and flashing of the sun on the waves irritated her. They parted amicably, and agreed to live separately, each at his or her own hall, and to visit regularly."
Odin later turned the pair into a constellation of stars, so that they could be together somewhere both could live.
Patrick played with two forms, each an abstract response to their homes made from two sheets of mirror polished stainless steel standing parallel to each other on a stainless steel square base, painted a deep inky blue on the internal faces representing the deep blue of the sea and the darkness of the starry night sky.
Over time this has evolved into one form combining both the mountain and wave shapes, with their constellation punched through the steel. The profile of the sculpture resembles the prow of Viking's new ocean-going luxury liner, the steel picks out the materials of the garden, and there are already two ships named for Njord and Skadi in their fleet.
Finding the ideal piece and place for a garden is what why I founded the gallery, and this feels like a perfect example of what we do. Working with such a fantastic designer and world-class cruise liner at the most prestigious exterior design show in the country has been a genuine pleasure.
Patrick is now hard at work building the piece and I shall keep you updated with his progress via this blog and our social media pages. I sincerely hope that we shall see some of you at the show where you can see the end result of a lot of hard work from all sides. You can see more of Patrick's work at our sculpture garden in Kent, and if either the process of commissioning new artworks or the purchasing of limited editions from some of the country's best artists interests you then we can be contacted via our website.