Peter Dowdall reviews a Bloom garden based on a sculptor whose work is a bit of a mesh.

Garden sculpture is something that we don’t always think of when decorating the garden.

We often tend to just plant it and forget about the extra dimension that a well-positioned piece of sculpture can bring. I found myself lost in admiration recently at Bloom in Dublin admiring the ‘Nature’s Resurgence’ garden and while the design and planting in the garden was the first thing to attract me, very quickly I was taken by the little guys playing in the garden. Then on further inspection of course, they weren’t playing at all.

Created by Emma Jane Rushworth these pieces just brought a sense of ‘life’ to the garden. The sculptures were of a pheasant about to be pounced upon by a fox, two creatures trapped in that one moment of time, by artistic hands.

Emma worked with designer John Dunston on this garden for Bloom “I met John and we got on straight away” said Emma “we wanted to create something very natural. Adding sculpture to the garden was a way to add a little humour to a serious topic of nature’s power to win and heal.”

It’s natures way but Emma says. “the sculpture was called ‘Up, Up and Away’, so the pheasant was always going to make it — people liked this as it gives a feeling of hope.”

Emma works in steel/ copper and bronze wire. She creates her magical garden sculptures by hand weaving wire into creature pieces with personalities and movement. Each one is unique and arrives with its very own character.

“I want my sculptures to make you smile”, says Emma, “I hope my work will add a little imagination and humour in your garden.”

Her work is making its way around the globe, she has sent sculpture to places as far afield as New Zealand and also, the United States. Her clients are often family groups, children buying for their parent’s or buying a piece to mark a special occasion.

Sometimes, as she says herself “just someone wanting to treat themselves by adding a little magic life-wire art to their lives.”

Sculpture in itself offers an escape from everyday troubles and so too does the garden and so when you put the two together you are assured of distraction and Emma’s aim with her sculpture is “to lift your spirits...”

She certainly achieves that with her pieces as its impossible to look at any of her work without smiling, be it a rabbit or a hare playing in a meadow, a regal looking stag looking out over surrounding countryside or simply a fairy resting her wings.

John’s garden in Bloom was a lovely space, it had good planting, ferns and tree ferns created a lush softness which was further added to, by the paving mixed with creeping thyme to give a hard surface, but with a soft feel.

The white of the Astilbes under trees made it even more soft and calm and then the dense Buxus planting representing undergrowth which was where the pheasant and fox were ‘playing’ added the drama to the garden. It gave it that something a bit different, an element that planting alone cannot give.

There’s something too about using wire like this for sculpture, it’s a mouldable material and the effect is soft, nothing like the density or solidity of a stone or solid metal feature and that’s why I think that this type of sculpture worked in this garden. Everything was soft, everything was as it should be.

It was only after a moment or two that you realised that these weren’t real animals. How could they be, we were in a garden show with a hundred thousand other people, yet they seemed so right and so apt for the space.

When I did stop for a moment and when the internal cogs eventually got going, and I could see the sculptures for what they were, a bird being stalked by a predator who fancied his dinner, made it even more real.

This was a natural garden and that’s nature’s way, many pheasants do end up being caught, a ‘cruel beast’ indeed, but as Emma said, this one got away to fly another day.

Sculpture as an artform amazes me. Here were two animals made out of wire replicating one moment and as sculptures they are static. How then did they create such a sense of movement in the garden, for that they surely did.

You could nearly feel the fox about to pounce as you urged the pheasant to take flight. They never did of course. One thing is for certain, you could show me a fox, a pheasant and a ball of copper wire and I’d still be sitting there looking at it, I’ll create my art with the plants, living art, and leave the sculpture to the experts.


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