The Fire and Iron Gallery, Leatherhead
I’m delighted to continue to be one of the featured artists at Lucy Quinnell’s gallery. There is some fabulous work here: ranging from traditional blacksmith’s functional items to ‘pure art’ sculpture. If you don’t already know of it, do visit the gallery. Allow plenty of time to marvel at (in order, below) Tim Cotterill’s brilliant bronze frogs, Joanne Tinker’s incredible miniatures, Mick Maxen’s exquisite welded textures, and a good selection of my own insects, animals and flowers, amongst a myriad of others. Just off junction 9 of the M25, KT22 0EN.
Lovely’s Gallery, Northdown Road Margate
Margate is undergoing an art-led revival, with the Turner Contemporary in the Harbour, and new art shops and galleries in the Old Town. In Cliftonville, once the genteel end of town with the grander hotels and seaside boarding-houses but now very Bohemian in character, is Lovely’s Art Gallery and Artist’s Materials. Founded in 1891 (so just 40 years too late to supply JMW with his canvas, oils or water-colours) and now in the fourth generation, this family business is an Aladdin’s Cave of art. Some is very modern; some of it amusing, but all imaginative and original. I have twice held solo exhibitions in their upstairs Art Space, and I am frequently surprised by their requests for front-window display work. My new heron was there recently, peering over a display of old garden gnomes and empty beer-bottles.
These gardens are open for high and late summer, 1st June to mid-October. The unusual layout of the Prairie Garden on a level site with a spiral of lawns and beds of grasses makes a fine, thoughtful place to stroll around, notice plants, and discuss sculpture. Their friendly tea-room has an excellent range of home-made cakes and light snacks. Dog-friendly. BN5 9AT.
Pashley Manor Gardens
From Easter weekend for two weeks, Pashley Manor in East Sussex is ablaze with an amazing variety of tulips: upwards of 40,000 blooms of all colours and varieties. But there’s more – my own copper tulips are on sale, in different varieties and sizes, and the extensive gardens exhibit other sculpture by myself and other leading artists from all over Britain, continuing throughout the year. They also have a superb cafeteria for light lunches and afternoon teas – not to be missed.
The gardens are open through to the end of September.
RHS Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Romsey
In addition to huge, well-laid-out grounds with very fine planting, a brilliant play area for children, and a superb cafe for light meals, the RHS Hillier Gardens are host to some very imaginative sculpture. It’s really more of an arboretum; some of the trees and shrubs are astounding, and the overall impression difficult to put into words.