The end of summer: Sculpture at the Bots

You know that the end of summer draws near, when the annual Sculpture in Context exhibition opens at the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin. Now in its twenty-sixth year, Sculpture in Context, hosted very successfully by the Botanic Gardens for eleven of those years, goes from strength to strength. It is an event that I look forward to immensely and one that I have not missed seeing since I first came to Dublin several years ago.

Wood Nymphs

Wood Nymphs by Maureen Bushe

As the editorial in the exhibition catalogue explains, the gardens ‘offer a challenging venue which gives the artist the rare opportunity of realising large scale work’. The editorial goes on to highlight the aspect of the exhibition that I like most, that of ‘sometimes finding sculptures in the most unusual places’. In fact you need to keep your eyes peeled as you walk around the gardens as artworks could be in the water, up a tree or in amongst the flowerbeds. The organisers kindly provide a map with the catalogue (€3) to aid in your quest to discover 130 pieces of sculpture. To be fair, not all of the pieces are scattered over hill and dale because there is an indoor element to the exhibition too (this is a blessing on wet and chilly days).

How you approach the exhibition is entirely up to you; either the systematic approach or the ramble around and see what turns up method are possible. I tend to favour the latter, as the ensuing randomness of the experience is much more rewarding. As I have said, you do need to be observant, as well as to be prepared to perform an abrupt about turn when another artwork is spotted. Sometimes I have found myself poised between two pieces several metres apart, in a mad moment of indecision. Visitors have an opportunity to vote for their favourite piece in the exhibition but I usually find it much too difficult to decide.

Murder of Crows

Murder of Crows by Bernadette Doolan

This year’s exhibition is due to close at 5pm on 19th October so you still have time to squeeze in a visit. On a clear autumn day, there are few nicer places to be than the Botanic Gardens and the sculptures are a wonderful bonus. Look out for ‘Wood Nymphs’, a ‘Murder of Crows’, a ‘Pigeon Situation’ and some ‘Travelling Birds’ (parrots). There is bog oak, recycled plastic, glass, ceramic, marble and limestone and much, much more. I only go to look, but the artworks are actually for sale so you might find just the right piece to fit that awkward corner.

If you have a very large corner, look at Claire Halpin and Madeleine Hellier’s piece ‘Car Park’. This is a 1996 green Nissan Almera, which has ‘many additional features including formal gardens, sun dial, cactus house … and hubaceous borders’. This will be sold by silent auction, bid deadline at 4pm on 17th October so if you have houseroom (sorry, garden room) why not put in a bid.

Flowers planted under car bonnet

Car Park by Claire Halpin & Madeleine Hellier

More information
Until Friday 19th October

(Photo credits: Verity – with thanks)