Since Venus, God of love and beauty, was hailed as the presiding deity of gardens by the Roman poet Varro she has been blessed with a long and prosperous reign and sculpture in the garden has continued to be an important ingredient in garden design throughout the history of constructed landscapes.
Many contemporary sculptures still explore the ideal of Venus through the female form. The voluptuous sculptures of powerful female forms by Gaston Lachaise in the sculpture garden at the National Gallery in Canberra are a wonderful contemporary example of ‘figures’ in the landscape.
The gardens of Renaissance Italy were outdoor museums, in the original sense of ‘homes for the muses’. Classical sculptures, excavated from the ruins of Greece and Rome, were displayed in gardens and considered to be an aid to contemplation, and a taste for placing classical statuary spread with the Renaissance to northern Europe. Henry VIII of England placed sculpture in his garden at Nonsuch, begun in 1538 and Louis XIV assembled a vast collection at his grand palace at Versailles.
Today sculpture has once again enjoyed a renaissance in garden design and with a dazzling selection and price range to choose from, there are sculptures to suit every garden, courtyard or balcony. From classical or modern stone and bronze statuary to contemporary pieces in steel, stone, timber and a multitude of materials, the choices are limited only by the artist’s imagination.
This collection of images is from Sculpture at Peppers, located in the magnificent, historic gardens of Craigieburn Peppers, and features the work of Stephen Oatley, Thomas Buchich and Stephen Coburn, who were invited to exhibit large scale sculptures as part of the Southern Highlands Festival of Wine, Art and Roses in November last year.
We don’t all own grand garden estates like Craigieburn but sculpture can be incorporated into the garden design of any outdoor space to create a dramatic focal point or quiet area of contemplation. Just as the classical sculptures in ancient Roman gardens nurtured the ideals of love and beauty so too can sculpture in our gardens today create that same sense of love, beauty and contemplation.