Larger than life

Cotswold Life - - INSIDER’S GUIDE -

There aren’t many fe­male black­smiths, and there aren’t many met­al­work­ers of any gen­der who reg­u­larly pro­duce work that stands three or four me­tres high.

But then Jenny Pick­ford is an un­usual artist. Orig­i­nally study­ing in fine art, she switched to learn­ing black­smithing at Here­ford Col­lege be­cause she wanted to work on a larger scale. To­day she’s recog­nised in­ter­na­tion­ally as one of the coun­try’s lead­ing artist-black­smiths, with a sig­na­ture style that com­bines forged steel with blown glass to make fluid, or­ganic shapes of recog­nis­able plants with leaves, stalks and flow­ers… and they’re spec­tac­u­larly over­sized.

Jenny’s sculp­tures are in­tended to grab the at­ten­tion, to make you re­ally see and feel the swirls and swoops of na­ture. The sheer scale draws at­ten­tion to the del­i­cacy and sen­si­tiv­ity of the sin­u­ous shapes – but you also know the strength of the piece, be­cause it’s made of metal and glass.

Jenny has shown her work reg­u­larly at the Chelsea Flower Show and other RHS events like the Tat­ton Park, Malvern and Hamp­ton Court shows.

She doesn’t usu­ally show her work in large groups; they sim­ply need too much space for most ex­hi­bi­tion venues, and be­sides she’s usu­ally busy with in­di­vid­ual com­mis­sions. Just be­fore this year’s Wim­ble­don ten­nis cham­pi­onship she in­stalled a 3m high dan­de­lion-in­spired piece out­side the play­ers’ en­trance; not long ago she was in China, su­per­vis­ing the in­stal­la­tion of a 4m hibis­cus in Chengdu.

But Water­perry Gar­dens pro­vides the ideal back­drop for a solo show, and so Jenny will be show­ing more than two dozen re­cent sculp­tures there un­der the name Su­per­na­ture III (Su­per­na­ture I was in 2015, at the Na­tional Trust’s Courts Gar­den in Holt; Su­per­na­ture II was Jenny’s first solo show, at Water­perry in 2017).

Jenny grew up on a farm four miles from Water­perry and still has fam­ily in the area; she feels a strong con­nec­tion to the Ox­ford­shire coun­try­side where her artis­tic imag­i­na­tion was forged. Su­per­na­ture III runs at Water­perry Gar­dens un­til Novem­ber 3, open 10am to 5pm. See more of Jenny’s work at www.jen­nypick­

Dan­de­lion clock, by Jenny Pick­ford

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