Gardens come into the house at Mottisfont

This section of the page features an image gallery, so if you're using a screen reader you may wish to jump to the main content.

Latest update 28.04.2014 22:02

Mottisfont is famous for its walled rose gardens but this year the house is embracing horticulture too. Gardens of Delight celebrates the nation’s obsession with gardens, in an exhibition of art and sculpture from the 19th century to the present day.

Paintings, prints, photographs and sculpture, including key loans from the Towner Art Gallery and botanical illustrations lent for the first time by the Royal Horticultural Society, create a vibrant exploration of what gardens mean to us.

Dream-like canvases by Phelan Gibb and George Hooper are among those which remind us that gardens are places of escape, leisure and relaxation. Peter Unsworth’s glowing emerald green lawns make an evening game of bowls into an almost magical activity, one of a number of works that explore how gardens can be public, sociable places that bring people together.

Small pleasures

Gardens can also though be very private places, and we British love to have our own little plot. Carel Weight’s Old Woman in the Garden embodies the pleasure that even a small courtyard can bring, while a simple window box is enough for the girls in Barnett Freedman’s print, made for Lyons to decorate their corner tea houses. Rows of suburban gardens have fascinated British artists, from Ruskin Spear to contemporary photographer Paul Graham.

Botanical rose treasures

The passion that gardeners have for plants is explored through a unique collection of works that have a very special significance for Mottisfont: ‘We are thrilled that the Royal Horticultural Society are lending for the first time ever some of the original botanical illustrations of roses that were made by Graham Stuart Thomas, who of course created the National Collection of Old Fashioned Roses that bloom here every June,’ says Louise Govier, Mottisfont’s Visitor Experience Manager. ‘Their level of detail shows just what a dedicated plantsman he was, and of course they are simply beautiful images.’

A celebration of vegetables

Glorious vegetables feature alongside fragrant flowers, from Olwen Jones’ painting of cucumbers growing under glass to Daphne Wright’s extraordinary life size intricate plaster sculpture of a greenhouse, complete with plaster cabbages ‘growing’ inside. Tim MacMillan’s pin-hole camera photographs of the Chelsea Flower show and picnickers on the lawns of Glyndebourne give a final quirky view of just how central gardens are to British life.

Gardens of Delight is on show from 3 May to 6 July. Click here for more information on Mottisfont, or call 01794 340757.