New sculptures for University of Leicester Botanic Garden
Schools in Leicester and Leicestershire have collaborated in the project with plants in the Botanic Garden providing inspiration for the artwork.
During the project, Jacky Oliver worked as Artist in Residence at the Botanic Garden in October 2014. Having originally trained in jewellery at the Royal College of Art, she later has been able to utilise her blacksmithing skills to allow her to create metal work on a much larger scale. Her piece, forged from stainless steel, is inspired by the Pin Oak by which it is sited, near the entrance.
As part of the project, Jacky assisted by Nyssa Walster and Lauren Moreland also worked with two local special schools, Ash Field Academy and Birch Wood School to create two additional sculptures.
Inspired by the plants at the Botanic Garden, the students pressed seeds and leaves into clay; the impressions were then used to form bronze casts and assembled to complete the sculptures. These are now on display in the herbaceous borders.
Dr Richard Gornall, Director of the University of Leicester Botanic Garden, said: “This is the product of an exciting collaboration between the sculptors and our partner schools. The theme has been well-chosen and the result looks fantastic.”
The project has been supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England, said: “We want everyone to have opportunities to be creative so we were delighted to invest in this project. I hope visitors to the Botanic Garden will enjoy the new works created by Jacky and the students.”
Founded in 1921 with the assistance of the Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society, the University of Leicester Botanic Garden was established on its present site in Oadby in 1947. It comprises the grounds of four houses: Beaumont, Southmeade, The Knoll and Hastings, which were built early this century and are now used as student residences.
The four once-separate gardens have been merged into a single entity, whose 16 acres of lovingly cultivated grounds and greenhouses, display a wide variety of features and environments. The formal planting centres around a restored Edwardian garden.
Other planting includes an arboretum, a herb garden, woodland and herbaceous borders, rock gardens, a water garden, special collections of Skimmia, Aubrieta, and hardy Fuchsia, and a series of glasshouses displaying temperate and tropical plants, alpines and succulents.
The plant collections and landscape features make this garden one of the most diverse in the region. The water features and sculptures are particularly pleasing and add character to the setting. It is the perfect place for a pleasant walk and there are benches for those who simply wish to relax and admire the surroundings. Variety is the key to this garden's strength.