If you were looking for a home for an outdoor sculpture exhibition you could scarcely do better than the Old Rectory in Quenington, deep in the heart of the Cotswolds. Down the winding lane past the sixteenth century church, through the archway, into a gravelled courtyard. Plants to buy ranged down one side, the long low rectory down the other.
A path round the side of the house leads into the gardens which unroll across the lawns down to the river Colne. Once it drove the paper mill; now it runs along side of the house. Fringed with willows, it bisects the lawns and is crossed by this slender, if somewhat impractical, bridge. (There is another more human friendly one further down.)
The river also provides a home for three immensely tall and elegant, long-necked bronze jugs. Out of the mouth of each arches a plume of water, all three meeting only to fall back into the water creating a tinkling musical backdrop.
The three jugs are permanent residents in the river; a temporary visitor is the large aluminium water lily which floats just below one of the bridges, its petals ruffled by the breeze.
A temporary visitor also was this wonderful steel dandelion, standing 5 metres high on the edge of the lawn, its seed heads blowing in a sudden gust of wind.
And here is my sister in law blowing off those seeds – an attempt to get her 7-year-old grandson interested in the fun potential of sculpture!
Here she is saluting with a fine glass and steel six foot high ‘spear’…
And how about about this amazing huge flexible aluminium squirrel’s tail, complete with a seat for all wishful squirrels to perch on and pretend…
Very at home on the woody path which runs alongside the river is another permanent resident of the garden – a tall, slim, golden and bronze lady. Standing bolt upright, arms at her sides, slender, athletic, head held high and tightly clad in her bronze helmet, eyes closed, zoned in to the trees around her.
Back on the lawns beside the house, not elegant ladies but very elegant dancing dresses, silvery aluminium clinging to their elegant ghostly wearers, their skirts swirling around them.
While just round the corner from the dresses, this poor chap, made from white marble dust, was buried up to his waist in the earth. Martha was doing her best to pull him out of the ground but not having a great deal of success!
And just to show the diversity of what is to be seen at the show, round the corner again from the marble man are these delicate little fabric ladders climbing up an old fruit tree, hung with tiny bird cages, ribbons, feathers and jewels.
If you want to see for yourself, you still just about have time as the show does not close until next Sunday. To find out more (or book tickets) check in to Fresh Air Sculpture 2019. You can also watch two fascinating videos about previous shows, including interviews with Lucy and David Abel Smith who have lived at the Old Rectory for 30 years and having been running sculpture shows in their gardens since 1992.
If you do get there, be sure also to pop into the churchyard opposite the rectory where this year you can see the Fresh Fringe – sculptures (amazing ones) created by children at local schools. Below are two examples – a random ‘recycled’ tower and a very sophisticated seated figure, his – or her – body created from rusted rings with legs, feet and hands of shiny bronze metal.
And should you feel that looking is not enough, you actually want to own. While there are one or two seriously expensive pieces (such as the bronze ‘Edward Lear’ man with Martha below at £55,000), most of the works are between £2,000 and £5,000 and there were a very reasonable number of pieces, especially in the Pool craft gallery, which were only a few hundred pounds.
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