University of Bristol: University of Bristol Botanic Garden hosts Easter Sculpture Festival

The ephemeral sounds of melodious zen bells chiming on trees, enchanting pond lily ceramics and the mesmerising sight of the potter’s wheel are all features of this year’s Easter Sculpture Festival. This event marks the start of the gardening year at the Botanic Garden and never has it been so welcome for the artists, volunteers, visitors and the garden team.

New sculptors exhibiting this year include Simon Probyn, Sonya Wilkins and Geoff Hannis.

Curator Nick Wray said: “I am delighted that we are able to host this festival again. It provides a focus for local West Country artists to exhibit their work. Many live and work in Bristol and know the Garden well. I am particularly excited to see the return of Tez Roberts whose live pottery demonstrations will give visitors a chance to see how clay is turned to artwork.

“For the first time wood turner Geoff Hannis will provide demonstrations of carving using a wood lathe. Much of his work uses green wood, a traditional method developed over thousands of years.”

One aim of the Festival is to show sculpture in all its different guises. Some visitors will already recognize ceramicist, Sonya Wilkins’ designs. She will be bringing her delicate ginkgo and lily leaf dishes, hanging wall planters and plant nests, inspired by her travels to faraway places. Her bespoke leaf tableware was selected by Niall Keating, Executive Head Chef on ‘The Great British Menu’ and Sonya has also been featured in Alan Titchmarsh’s ‘Love your Weekend’.

Another new exhibitor, Simon Probyn is a sculptor who works using heavy industrial steel. Based in rural Herefordshire, he creates abstract and figurative works of art from both found and new material. He takes the man-made architectural steel designs and lets them subtly dictate their new purpose.

It is particularly relevant in a Botanic Garden to exhibit wooden sculptures. Wood turner, Geoff Hannis pays homage to the beauty of wood, while demonstrating his green woodworking skills. Wood turning is the craft of using a wood lathe with hand-held tools to cut a shape that is symmetrical around the axis of rotation. Observers of this ancient craft feel a similar feeling of awe experienced when watching a potter’s wheel in action.

Ceramic sculptures add great pleasure to the garden and this year’s exhibitors are bringing a wide variety of creations to inspire, delight and whet the appetite.

Renee Kilburn’s chosen material is white stoneware that is glazed in a white gloss glaze and fired to 1260C degrees after the bisque firing. She then paints the piece in hand mixed earthenware glazes to achieve the brilliant colours.

Christine Baxter, figurative sculptor, works predominantly in clay, but also directly into plaster and wax. She then casts her work into bronze, bronze resin, iron resin and stone.

Other sculptors returning this year with new creations include Lucianne Lassalle (bronze), Jitka Palmer (ceramics, stone and clay), ceramicists Karen Edwards and Jeremy Baines, Adele Christensen and Aurora Pozniakow (glass art), Daren Greenhow (steel), Joanna Williams (artist blacksmith) and Hayley Jones (wirework).

Tez Roberts of Labyrinth Arts, will be giving potter’s wheel demonstrations and offering visitors an opportunity to try their hand. She uses a variety of firing methods with Raku and stoneware being her preferred mediums.

Willow weaver Maya Wolf, will also be teaching visitors her craft and helping them create willow sculptures to take home to their garden.

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