Using the Sculpture Garden at Salena Stamps

by Peter Boex

Ten years have passed, the trees have grown and the shrubs have billowed out. What seemed to be a large area to fill has now grown into itself through the increased tree canopy. Areas that I was mowing have become mulched flower beds and the feeding grounds for blackbirds, thrushes and the winter fieldfares. Not only do the birds feed on the worms and grubs in the mulch, but it acts as a perfect seed bed for tree seedlings and rooting rhododendrons that are now competing for space among the sculptures.

There have been a few more permanent sculptures installed, including The Three Gracelesslasses, Figure Out, Chariot of Dreams and the now completed Sculpture Hut. The garden has been visited and used by many different groups both young and old for education and recreation. There have been visits from primary schools for art classes, charity groups to raise funds and social groups for afternoon activities. In the future I would like to invite more groups such as photographic clubs, arts societies and gardening clubs.

The Sculpture Hut at Salena Stamps

The Sculpture Hut at Salena Stamps

The Sculpture Hut makes an interesting feature at the end of the garden. It is a sculpture in its own right but also has a sculpture placed inside it and it is the intimacy of being with sculpture that is at the heart of the experience. The walls are dry stone, the roof is timber with cedar shingles and floor is gravel over a woven plastic membrane. Making a circular structure with a cone shape on top has many structural problems least of which is that each piece is individually measured and cut. With the folly completed I can now plant around it and place sculptures inside and out to change the look and feel of this area of the garden. The interior has the ambiance of a small chapel and the sound of the river is reflected in the roof. So the experience of the space satisfies all the senses; aural, visual, spiritual and aesthetic.

 

The Three Gracelesslasses

The Three Gracelesslasses

The Three Gracelesslasses is an experimental sculpture using a triangular, mirrored, central column which reflects the three carved stone images of the dancing figures that form the outside of the sculpture. The experiment has revealed an interesting result in that the viewer cannot see themselves in the mirror faces; they can only see the reflection of the sculptures and reflections from various parts of the garden but it also has the effect of looking through a window. The mirrors throw reflected sunlight on sunny days but also reflect very strong light on to the carved faces and thereby make a stark shadow definition. It has become a centre point for this part of the garden. People move around the sculpture naturally viewing the different angles which has suggested to me that I should develop this in some way. One of the ideas I am playing with is making a labyrinth with the sculpture in the centre. This will be an enjoyable and interesting challenge, having looked into the processes, of design and production.

The Chariot of Dreams

The Chariot of Dreams

The Chariot of Dreams came out of a potential commission for a hotel in Devon. The brief asked for an imaginative outdoor sculpture that would combine the military origins of the building with the maritime history of the region. The gun carriage would have been common for both these environments and through the use of this base I was able to combine the images of boat ribs, a horse’s head and the head of a warrior. The commission did not materialise so I decided to go ahead for myself and make the sculpture for the garden. The oak, from Lanhydrock woods, was specially cut from curved trunks so as to make the ribs and the horse’s head. This form of sculpture has produced a number of ideas for future sculptures and garden furniture which would combine the functional with the aesthetic. The huge traditional joints are a reflection of times past and the skills that were once common but are now seen less and less. If they are used then it is almost as if the practitioners are curators of these skills and what they produce is a museum artefact.

Figure Out

Figure Out

Figure Out is a less imposing piece, falling into the trompe l’oeil style of sculpture. It consists of two large oblong pieces of oak placed vertically in the ground, each of which has half of a female running figure cut out in profile. When viewed at a critical position the two profiles come together as one but then if you move, the image is broken, and the profiles become meaningless. The sculpture is a great favourite with visitors and is a discovery for each person, a small revelation, a little moment to wonder.

The garden has changed in the last ten years and though I didn’t start out with any particular intention it has become an outdoor gallery for my sculpture, a place of entertainment and source of inspiration for the casual visitor and an educational resource for schools and groups. There is a lot of work involved in keeping it tidy and organised but as with all gardens everywhere there is a seasonal rotation of jobs. I have over 50 sculptures in the garden and more when we do the Cornwall Open Studios. One of the weaknesses has been a lack of seating for visitors to stop and enjoy the various areas so this year I have decided to address this shortfall and install some designs of my own so I hope you will be ‘sitting comfortably’ on your next visit and just maybe I will get the labyrinth made but knowing my record you may have to wait a few years! â–

The sculpture garden and gallery at Salena Stamps are open by appointment www.peterboex.com

Email: peter@peterboex.com  Tel: 01326 563002 Mobile: 07974 202746  

Salena Stamps Cottage, Trenear, Helston,Cornwall TR130ER