‘The Spirit of the Woods’ show garden wins Gold at RHS Malvern Spring Festival

‘The Spirit of the Woods’ show garden designed by Peter Dowle from Howle Hill Nursery and featuring four of Dorset sculptor Simon Gudgeon’s creations has been awarded Gold and the Best Construction Award at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival.

‘The Spirit of the Woods’ is a garden that explores our spiritual connection with nature using sculpture as a medium. The main vista incorporates Leaf Spirit, one of Simon’s sculptures, set in a stone grotto over a small dripping pool surrounded with moss and ferns. The backdrop is an oak woodland with the Malvern Hills behind, it is truly breathtaking.

Alongside three of Simon’s sculptures being part of the show garden itself he also unveiled his most recent sculpture, Athena, at the show. Athena is a life-sized ballerina sculpture, inspired by principal ballerina Ksenia Ovsyanick, based on voronoi patterns, a totally new concept for Simon, stepping away from his signature smooth style. This new exploration in shape and form displays his unique ability to create sculptures that nestle within and work synonymously with their outdoor surroundings and nature itself. Through the voronoi patterns the environment can be seen and the backdrop of nature entwines within the sculpture itself.

The three sculptures that formed part of the garden are Whispering Spirit, Leaf Spirit and Sylph.

Whispering Spirit has an aural quality, whilst the front of the sculpture is a figurative piece the back is shaped like a cone, narrowing to an opening in her mouth. If your ear is placed to her lips the sound of nature beyond including the wind through the trees and the birds singing is magnified.

Leaf Spirit is a figurative sculpture which evokes a sense of calm, it is made from imprints of leaves found in Simon’s sculpture park in Dorset, Sculpture by the Lakes. It is situated within the main vista of the show garden, set in a stone grotto over a small dripping pool surrounded with moss and ferns. Later this year Leaf Spirit will be permanently installed at Kew Gardens in London.

Sylph, similarly to Athena, was inspired by working with principal ballerina Kesenia Ovsyanick. The sculpture is made up of 1000 bronze leaves welded together and it’s delicate lattice adds to it’s ethereal quality, giving it an elegance which reflects the fluidity of the ballerina as well as the beauty of her performance.