Viking Cruises Mekong Garden – RHS Chelsea Flower Show

My canopy at Chelsea. Photo by Sandie Roche

Just back from a stint at Chelsea Flower Show celebrating the success of the Viking Cruises Mekong Garden‘s gold and best artisan garden awards, Nick Weaver and I were overawed by the massive interest in our focal pieces for the garden, which appeared to have the wow factor.

A seemingly endless stream of visitors in their 1000s admired and appreciated the garden, designed by multi-gold award-winner Sarah Eberle.  People expressed how much they would love to lounge on Nick’s boat and chill, with the water gently lapping around them and visitors were charmed by the ‘ethereal beauty’ and colours of my canopy, many intrigued by its makeup.  Sarah Eberle described it in her BBC TV interview this week with Joe Swift as her best bit of the garden: “I love the canopy.. like a celestial beam.. wonderfully charming”!

Me working on the final stages of the canopyMe working on final corner of canopyCanopy finishedCanopy loaded on truckCanopy unveiling at Chelsea - checking fish skeletons are still in tact!Transporting canopy to siteNick and Fiona installing sticks at ChelseaInstalling canopy at Chelsea, May 15Fiona and Nick installing canopy at ChelseaFiona installing canopy at ChelseaViking Cruises Mekong Garden completeOur focal piecesCanopy rising above hoards of visitorsEndless stream of peopleGold and Best Artisan Garden Awards proudly displayedKate Adie giving an interview by our gardenOur garden - image supplied by Guardian GardensWire baskets I made for the showCanopy detailNaga (snake deities) carved by Nick WeaverJMP_VIKING_CHELSEA_15Me and Nick Weaver on the garden stepsMe, Nick Weaver and Sarah Eberle lounging on the boat

I was commissioned by Sarah Eberle to create the canopy for her Artisan Mekong Garden, inspired by Cambodia’s floating gardens, traditional fishing nets and silk weaving in the Mekong River region, following Sarah’s journey on board sponsor Viking Cruises Magnificent Mekong.  Nick made a lounger styled on a traditional fishing boat.

The 7 x 5m garden is entirely water with a small deck leading to the boat/lounger and cantilevered canopy suspended above. The beds follow the style of the region and contain an eclectic mixture of fruit, flowers and vegetables. Harvested hazel, other reclaimed woods and a plethora of woven wire, silk and found materials have all be used to harmonise with the planting.

I was approached by Sarah after seeing my installation piece “Lichen” at the Maureen Michaelson Gallery stand at GROW London last year.  The 4 metre textured fishing net/canopy I made by hand incorporates incredibly fine woven copper wires, fruit netting bags, twine, silk, wool and other surprising found and reclaimed materials like fish skeletons!  I also made 3 wire baskets used as props. It was a great pleasure and honour working with Sarah for Chelsea Flower Show and amazing to have achieved such highly acclaimed awards. The team involved many others, including Nigel Evans (paint effects on boat) and Angela Morley (supplied trombone squash), and we are grateful to all who have supported us, given materials and helped!

After over 4 months of hard work, I am a little exhausted but elated!

To see more photos of the Chelsea Flower Show work in progress visit my Art Facebook Page

Next show – The Hidden Garden Art Show, at Maureen Michaelson Gallery, Hampstead, London; 4 – 12 June.  I will be showing a range of my work, alongside other selected artists (see poster below).  On Sunday 12 June this Gallery is also hosting a day as part of Chelsea Fringe Festival, where I will be demonstrating my sculpting techniques from 11am – 5pm, with a talk at 3pm.  Do come along!

www.maureenmichaelson.com or www.chelseafringe.com

MMG Hidden Garden Art Show

 

Africa, Wildlife and Art

I’m very proud to have roots in Africa.  David Attenborough’s recent BBC TV series has brought the continent to the fore and each film brings tears to my eyes – mingled emotions of sadness, nostalgia, amazement, joy, laughter, despair, pride, love…  Several people have commented to me on the memorable Dung Beetle and Ball episode, as I have an affinity with Dung Beetles.  I make sculptures of them, use one as my gravitas and even won David Shepherd’s 3-d Wildlife Artist of the Year Award (’09) with my Dung Beetle and Ball piece (see below).  Since my childhood, I’ve always been captivated by dung beetles.  Their attachment to dung, the backward ball-rolling, their striking appearance, strength and perseverance appeal to my interest in the extra-ordinary.  Worshipped by the Egyptians, they are also symbols of wealth and power.  My Dad used to (and still does!) enjoy picking up dried elephant dung on safaris (see also my brother’s Andrew Campbell safaris) or driving over it for fun, and I guess the dung thing has stuck.  Hopefully, more people now understand that the beetles roll balls with their back legs and why they love dung so much (nutrition, nest etc..).  In galleries I’ve had to reverse my beetles, after being placed the wrong way round!

This week I managed to catch the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at Bristol Museum before it ends (today).  Wildlife in all its guises – again raising all sorts of emotions with incredible images of nature – closeup, narrative, beauty and horror (mainly due to ‘sick people’ as my son succinctly put it).

My son and I then popped to the Arnolfini’s Worktable event as part of IBT13, passing IBT’s fake moon rising in College Green on our way to the harbourside.  Worktable is a drop-by interactive artwork by Kate McIntosh set in connected shipping containers with microphones to record the antics. We chose an item to use/smash up (rollerskate), which was great fun to do in a room on our own, then had to artfully re-assemble someone else’s trashed object (car) in a shared room with other creative participants, with very basic materials. Equally exciting was seeing the results of everyone else’s handiwork at the end.  Challenging work – good for lateral thinking with no pre-conceived ideas.  Project ends later today.