‘Garden of Eden’ for Abundance Garden Trail. Site specific arts works. Part of the Somerset Art Weeks Festival 21 Sep – 6 Oct 2013

Fiona Campbell is one of 8 artists (with Megan Calver,  Alison Cockcroft, Kitty Hiller, Leah Hislop, Sue Palmer, Bryony Tidball and Gillian Widden) who have been commissioned to create a series of new contemporary site-specific art works for the Abundance Garden Trail, set in a wealth of cultivated garden landscapes in Somerset, using different materials and approaches in response to the theme of ‘Abundance’ in a wider context. The selected artists are encouraged to use locally sourced materials in response to the landscape, culture and knowledge from each of their allocated gardens.

The Abundance Garden Trail aims to connect the wider public with the creativity between the cultivation of gardens and art making in Somerset.

Fiona’s large scale installations for her allocated garden ‘Esotera’ are based upon the idea of Genesis’ Garden of Eden – the most abundant garden where plants, creatures and humans grow and roam freely in complete harmony.  The Garden of Eden is almost tangible at Esotera.  Transformed from nothing into an idyllic environment, abundant with creatures and plants living harmoniously, the garden emanates a Utopian ideal.  It is the first Utopian concept, explored by many including Plato, Thomas More and other philosophers.  Esotera means ‘of the earth’, esoteric means ‘mystical, unusual, rare.’  The garden symbolises a love for the land and relationship with the earth, Esotera’s owners Shirley and Andrew work hard together to create from nothing an idyllic garden (Eden), they make a huge effort in contributing to society (Utopian), build things from found materials – including houses of various sorts and the garden is very harmonious with nature, rich in wildlife, creatures everywhere.

Fiona’s work will relate to some of the garden’s textures and forms, nature’s repossession and return to Eden, using an abundance of vibrant found and reclaimed materials collected from the area, echoing the owners’ own collection of found objects.  It will also suggest that ‘Eden’ is everywhere in our fantastical microscopic world if we look hard enough.  A garden of earthly delights awaits.

“In line with my current fascination with the microscopic world and the ethos, life and materials at Esotera, I am creating 3 related installations within the garden.  These involve giant growths – ancient, universal forms inspired by lichen, nests, linked to the Eden concept and utilising found objects.   Half hidden, the work will hopefully create quite an impact.  It has involved months of collecting, weaving, wrapping, cutting, forming and welding, using soft and hard materials together, which is relatively new for me.  I’ve really enjoyed sourcing relevant objects and raw materials including barrels, wheels, horseshoes, rusted corrugated steel, copper wires, twine, netting, old light bulbs etc.  It has been a lovely experience visiting Esotera, witnessing their garden change through the seasons – from a wintry first visit to a lush summer oasis.  The owners have been so accommodating, helpful and generous with their time and donations of scrap for my project.”

Originally a field, this 2-acre established informal cottage style garden contains 3 ponds with moorhens and ducks.  It includes a large prairie border, contemporary potting shed on oak straddle stones with a wide border of shrubs and herbaceous planting completely surrounding it – just one of many places to sit and relax. There are mature trees and box topiary in different forms, a courtyard area with open fireplace and large sitting area. The meadow walk, with wildlife in mind, leading to a shepherd’s hut and cluster of silver birch trees is the area for Fiona’s installation. Beyond is a vegetable garden with all year round polytunnel, greenhouse and cold frame.

Fiona will be giving a talk on site at Esotera about her creation of the Garden of Eden, followed by a taster wire workshop on Saturday 21st September at 2pm (bookings via SAW office: 01458 253800).  Alongside her installation at Esotera (venue 55), Fiona will also feature as part of Somerset Art Weeks’ group exhibitions at Thornreed Studio (venue 94), Lower Godney, Somerset BA5 1RZ, showing with Simon Ledson, Jan Ollis and Jane Peck (21st Sept – 6th Oct, daily 11-6).

The Abundance Garden Trail runs from 21st September – 6th October, open daily 11-4, Thursdays – Sundays at Esotera, Foddington, nr Babcary, Somerset TA11 7EL.  Children must be supervised at all times.

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