Spring exhibits at Trelissick

Trelissick house viewed from the River Fal, Cornwall

This spring at Trelissick we are bringing the outdoors inside and the indoors outside.

A photographic installation from artist Ilene Sterns brings the gardeners and their work to the fore with intimate portraits in the East Library of the house. The West Library presents hand painted Spode-Copeland ceramics inspired by rhododendrons which can be found while exploring the garden today.

Shoots and blooms - a snapshot of Trelissick's gardeners at work

This intimate photographic installation reveals the people behind the plants at Trelissick. Artist photographer Ilene Sterns presents her captivating images of the gardeners at work and the incredible flowers they tend to. Here she celebrates them and their role as custodians of the garden's renowned rhododendrons. 

" Gardeners do most of their work quietly behind the scenes, rarely being celebrated and often remaining entirely anonymous in spite of being the heart and soul of any garden. "

Photographing Trelissick’s gardeners and rhododendrons during January and February 2019, Ilene shot using a selective focus lens which has a moveable ‘sweet spot’. Anything in that sweet spot is in relatively sharp focus, but the focus quickly falls away so that much of the image is blurred and almost abstract. Using this technique she makes the most of the low winter light, with the rhododendron blooms glowing like jewels and the gardener's portraits evoking a dream-like quality.

Under the rhododendrons
A portrait of a gardener under a rhododendron at Trelissick by Ilene Sterns
Under the rhododendrons

From garden to plate - Trelissick's rhododendron ceramics

Trelissick house is home to some of the finest examples of Spode-Copeland china and the garden provided inspiration for a service in the collection here. The service in Trelissick’s West Library depict rhododendrons found in the garden and dates from the 1940s. Each of the plates are decorated with a hand-coloured etching of rhododendron blooms by Harold Holdway who created hundreds of designs for prestigious ceramics producer W.T. Copeland and Sons.

Rhododendron 'Gwillt King' and the ceramics design it inspired
Rhododendron 'Gwillt King' with the Copeland-Spode plate design it inspired at Trelissick, Cornwall
Rhododendron 'Gwillt King' and the ceramics design it inspired

Exploring the garden today will reveal examples of the rhododendrons that Ronald Copeland, the company's managing director, tended in the garden during his time at Trelissick. He provided cuttings for Harold Holdway to paint from and ensured his exacting standards were carried out in their presentation for rhododendrons were one of his true passions. 

The gardeners carry this passion forward to present day, clearly demonstrated when the rhododendrons reveal their most spectacular display during the spring season. Signs around the garden locate the specimens depicted in the designs and explore their significance in further detail.These exhibits aim to draw together Trelissick's past and the present, its historic collection and its plants, the house and the garden. 

The exhibition will be on show in the house through the spring until 31 May 2019, the house opens from 11am to 5pm (last entry 4.30pm).