Shortly after the Collect 2020 fair at Somerset House, COVID-19 lock-down restrictions were put in place across the UK and plans to deliver my ‘Treasure‘ Collect Open artwork to its new owner were put on hold. Finally, four months later, the time was right for us to make the journey safely and on Sunday 26th July we installed the work at the beautiful London residence of the Irish writer and art collector Polly Devlin OBE.
Polly’s home is a wunderkammer of incredible objects that she has collected over many years, each with a story to tell and as we worked she regaled us with wonderful tales of some of her favourite pieces. After the delicate wax flowers were unpacked and arranged, we were treated to celebratory bubbles and lunch out at a local restaurant, the first we had set foot in since early March!
When it was time to leave Polly gave us a gift, a book she had written with her late husband Andy Garnett, about a Somerset wild flower meadow called Cannwood that they once owned and cared passionately about.
It was a special day that I shall never forget, spent with a warm and welcoming host. I know that we will stay in touch for many years to come.
I’ve been to Kew on many occasions to work in the herbarium with the curatorial staff or visit the collections behind the scenes, but the schedule has always been tight and there has never been enough spare time for me to take a good look around the gardens. That’s why I was delighted to visit again last week for the Handmade at Kew 2017 show which took place in the Kew Palace Lawn Pavilion. It was a chance to see some world class contemporary crafts and an opportunity to meet the talented makers and talk about the influences and processes behind their work. The show coincided with the final few days of the Sculpt at Kew exhibition, with 30 artists presenting figurative, abstract and modern sculptures in an outdoor trail throughout the beautiful gardens.
I was also able to spend time exploring the fabulous rain forest plants and iconic Victorian architecture of the Palm House, the ten different environments in the Princess of Wales Conservatory and the 17 foot tall multi-sensory bee experience called The Hive.
Kew Gardens has the largest and most diverse collection of living plants in the world, so I’ve still only seen the smallest part of it and I’d love to see more. I’ll have to visit again soon!