Beauty for its own sake
- Credit: Oliver Edwards
A new commercial sculpture garden at Carden Park is designed to bring pleasure to those who just want to visit for the pleasure of it and for collectors alike
While 2D art has become easily accessible through high street art galleries, where gallery owners are always delighted to give customers their support and advice on purchasing art, sculpture (particularly of the size that sits best in garden or lobby) is still relatively inaccessible. Those who love to visit the nation’s museums and art galleries also see far less sculpture than any other art form, which is rather a shame, as sculpture can be as heart-stirring, dramatic or soothing as any other medium.
Putting this to rights in his own always generous fashion is Steve Morgan, businessman and philanthropist and owner of Carden Park, as he opens a sculpture garden that is free to visit and where, should someone fall in love with a particular piece, they can purchase it. To do this, he has enlisted the help of Grant Ford, who, after learning his trade in a 30-year career at Sotheby’s in London, established his own art curation business in 2016.
‘When I first visited Carden Park, I was immediately struck by the stunningly beautiful countryside that surrounds the hotel,’ Grant says. 'Sculpture provides the perfect marriage to the backdrop of luscious green rolling landscapes, tranquil lakes, old woodlands and big open skies. It offers us all a time to reflect and appreciate everything around us, resulting in a meditative and philosophical sense of the past, the present and the future.
‘I first discussed the concept of a commercial sculpture garden with Steve several years ago, and was thrilled when this year he asked me to go ahead.’
The Sculpture Garden has been designed to be easily accessible to all, with over 30 sculptures placed in a relatively small space, in the old walled garden directly in front of the hotel, and we have an interesting group inside by the main reception.
‘Starting a commercial Sculpture Garden from scratch was a very big idea, particularly in the middle of a pandemic,’ says Grant. ‘The main focus for me was the belief that many of us would be keen to venture out and explore the beautiful British countryside and there would be an appetite to look at wonderful art outside. With the enthusiasm of many leading sculptors and artists, together with the never-ending support from Carden Park, I believe we have created a really unique and amazing display.’
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To assist the visitor, Grant has worked to create beautiful, descriptive signage with QR codes added, that will take those who want to know more to a website with additional information about the artist, the piece in the Garden and, should they wish, information on how to buy it. Prices for art and sculpture range from £1,000 to over £300,000.
‘Steve’s vision represents a quite significant investment on his part, but his overriding aim is to add another dimension to the Hotel & Spa Resort, and just give people some extra joy. The Sculpture Garden adds, I think, quite a significant dimension to the whole hotel experience. You don’t need to be a guest at the hotel to visit, you can drop in to stroll the Garden and then disappear, or decide to enjoy a meal or a drink in the hotel, it’s really a very relaxed and enjoyable experience for everyone’
Grant is thrilled with the calibre of sculptures represented at Carden Park.
'You will find works by well-known and emerging sculptors and artists and a diverse range of subjects for sale. I am particularly thrilled to show Looking at Life, by Rowan Gillespie, who I consider to be one of the very best sculptors from Ireland. Emily Young’s work is also represented and she is certainly one our greatest living sculptors. Someone less well known, but who deserves to have a much greater profile, is George Triggs. From contemporary subjects by David Harber, Giles Rayner, Anthony Scott, and Leigh Dyer to sporting and animalier by Tessa Campbell Fraser, Philip Blacker, and Charles Langton, to fabulous figurative subjects by Giles Penny and many others. Visitors will also find stunning sculptures by Michael Thacker and paintings by Neil Helyard inside the hotel. All of the works can be viewed on grantfordltd.com.
‘Art is such a personal thing, truly "in the eye of the beholder", so we have worked very hard to curate an exhibition where, I believe, there is something to delight every eye. And as it will be forever changing, so there will always be a reason to come back.
‘The Sculpture Park at Carden Park Hotel is certainly a must visit destination in Cheshire and provides a luxury open air exhibition experience for everyone.’
The Sculpture Park opened on August 27 cardenpark.co.uk