Above and Below: A colony of the silver-leaf form of Cyclamen coum flowering heartily under one of our Weeping Japanese Maples
The last three months have been a proper winter for us even to snow a few days back, now we’re looking forward to warmer weather and our most important spring/summer/autumn season ever. This October we commence a series of events in celebration of the 30 or so historic plants we have in the gardens. Such plants as the Weeping Japanese maples (on our main terrace) and the Enkianthus (near the Summer House) sent to the Woolrichs from the Yokohama Nursery in the ’20s, and also Fred Streeter’s grafted beeches from England. All of these were planted by Jim and Ted Woolrich in the spring of 1928 however they were several years old by then and I suspect they were propagated from 1920 onwards. In which case, and for the sake of doing the right thing by these very significant plants, 2020 seems a very appropriate year to commence their centenary celebrations.
For the first of these events, we have letter cutter Ian Marr coming to Cloudehill and Ian will be working on a major sculptural project from October Saturday 19 to Friday 25. The finished piece will be installed on the edge of our top meadow Sunday 27 October. Much of our art is the work of Ian Marr. Some ten of his pieces are already installed around the gardens and for ages we’ve had an idea for two more. These will be standing stones, each with a stanza of Friedrich Holderin’s Half of Life translated into English by James Blair Leishman cut into them. The two will read…
With yellow pears leans over,
And full of run-wild roses,
The land into the lake,
You gracious swans,
And, drunk with kisses,
You dip your heads
In the sacredly-sober water.
Where shall I gather though,
When winter comes, the flowers, and where
The dappling shine
And shadow of earth?
The walls will stand
Speechless and cold, the wind-swung
James Blair Leishman
From the German of Friedrich Holderin
Partly these will be our tribute to the Scottish garden, Little Sparta, made by another Ian, Ian Hamilton Finlay. Little Sparta is a garden full of poetry carved into all sorts of things and a place Ian (Marr) spent time at way back in the 1970s. Ian (Marr) was so impressed by Ian (Hamilton Finlay) he came away and mastered the craft of carving text (into slate and sandstone) for himself and now ranks as Australia’s foremost artist working in the field.
There’s an odd coincidence at the heart of our project. I came across Leishman’s lines in the Oxford Book of Verse in English Translation in 1981 and scribbled a note in the book’s flyleaf. Years later I discovered Hamilton Finlay must have read the same book as around 1990 he commissioned Leishman’s first stanza for Little Sparta, but not his second. Now I’ve always felt these verses belong together and what’s more, there’s a spot beside one of our meadows for such an arrangement.
So that’s the plan, Ian Marr will be here carving the pieces from October Saturday 19 and they will be installed on October Sunday 27 and everyone is invited to come and see. And if by chance you can’t come to the installation, then you’re invited to the letter cutting itself. Ian is very happy to have people wandering up and chatting while he is working.
Ian will also will be conducting a Letter Cutting Workshop on the weekend of October 26/27. Ian has run two or three of these in years gone by and they have been popular and highly successful. Ian supplies the stone and tools, and participants pick up the gist of the craft in two days (proficiency takes a little longer) and everyone takes home something handsome enough to install into their own garden, and tickets are a snip at $400. Also there are only eight, which means everyone gets lots of one-to-one attention and need to be quick to book a place! I have to say, watching a master craftsman busy at letter cutting is a joy. I even have a little video to prove the point.
Believe me, seeing this in the flesh is even more fascinating. Call me on 03 9751 1009 to book and for more information. Please also let anyone and everyone know who you might be interested in the weekend as this is not something that comes up often. Most of Ian’s workshops are in Finland and Ireland and the US and Spain and other such difficult to get to places.
Apart from Cloudehill looking full of spring floraison in October, another reason to drive in this direction will be the Archibald Prize paintings at Tarrawarra Art Museum (near Healesville). Tarrawarra is hosting the Archibald Prize paintings throughout October, and seeing the ‘Archies’, then popping over to us on the way home (or the other way around) to watch Ian carving could make a splendid outing.
The Archibald Prize paintings will be on display at Tarrawarra from September 14 to November 5 altogether. During this time I will be conducting FREE tours of 'Cloudehill and its Art Works' to everyone seeing 'the Archies'. Throughout the show every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 2.30 pm everyone with a ticket to Tarrawarra will be entitled to pop in to Cloudehill and join the tour.
Tours will be over some 45 minutes and will concentrate more on design philosophy and the logic of using art in the garden than is usually the case with my garden tours. They should be fun and, as mentioned, free to Tarrawarra ticket holders (after the ordinary $10 admission is paid) so even more of a reason to do both the Archibalds AND Cloudehill in one very pleasant day out.
See you in the garden