Designer fell in love with abstract paintings
‘TO make a landscape sing of the day’ is my favourite quote by abstract landscape artist Harry Ousey, and although he died over thirty years ago, fifty of his works are singing to me every day in the Laughing Badger Gallery - and it’s a mighty privilege to have him on my walls.
I use Harry’s words when faced by the puzzled expressions of some visitors, who just don’t ‘get it’, and sometimes I’m tempted to say, ‘That’s your problem, not Harry’s!’
One guy even came in and said, ‘Anyone could do that, they’re like kids paintings’. He changed his mind when I produced paper and paints.
Mostly the works bring joy, and sometimes even tears, but, in particular, which I think Harry would have loved, they bring a multitude of interpretations: a bridge?; a river?; a mountain?; or quite simply, ‘I adore that blue’. The latter was me, and I do.
If there is such a thing as an after-life, which I doubt, Harry would have raised several glasses last week to the health of two men of great skill and vision who were visiting the gallery for breakfast - and one of them was so entranced by the work that he walked off with a painting from the 60s. He was smitten.
It was the internationally-acclaimed garden designer Paul Hervey-Brookes who bought the painting, and he was accompanied by the equally impressive local landscape gardener Gareth Wilson.
The two have worked in tandem over the past few years, with Gareth and his team building the wonderfully evocative and sensitive designs created by Paul, and consistently winning gold awards for their joint efforts.
They have just been commissioned to create a garden at the Chatsworth Estate, and this hard on the heels of another award, Hampton Court Gold for the ‘Dog’s Life Garden’. This garden also involved the skills of two more men: first class photographer Chris Peate, of Glossop, and the very talented artist Paul Tavenor, whose wire dog sculptures magically pull together the collaboration.
I asked Paul HerveyBrookes how he became interested in garden design, and he said: “I have been interested in plants and gardens since childhood. Some of my earliest memories are those of being given cuttings and tubers to grow from our neighbours while growing up in Oxford, where we lived a short distance from the University Botanic Garden.
“This interest grew into a deep fascination and led me to study at Pershore College of Horticulture in 1997. During this time I worked for a specialist herbaceous perennial nursery, Cotswold Garden Flowers, propagating, potting on, learning and travelling the length and breadth of the country going to rare plant fairs.”
These travels eventually led Paul to study at The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, giving him the opportunity to learn about plants and plant habitats from some of the most knowledgeable and inspiring plants-men.
After university Paul was fortunate enough to work in Italy, restoring a Renaissance garden, and later in France for Baron de Rothschild.
Upon returning to the United Kingdom he studied landscape design and dabbled in creating a show garden at Malvern Autumn Show 2008. This first attempt proved addictive and he has created show gardens at venues such as Chelsea Flower Show, Hampton Court, and at Japan’s prestigious ‘Gardening World Cup’, ‘Ellerslie Flower Show’ in New Zealand and the ‘Philadelphia Flower Show’ in the United States of America.
He said: “My work as a garden and landscape designer is highly diverse and I relish the opportunity to work on everything from small courtyards to large country estates as well as public spaces.
“I work both in the UK and internationally and as part of my work I advise on the management of gardens, with a particular interest in the historic coupled with identifying and master-planning potential land and sites for development.”
I suggested that Paul should maybe use the works of Harry Ousey for inspiration for a garden design, so you never know.
As for Harry, his work is here at the gallery for at least another two months, and there is a talk about his life and work by his niece, Sue Astles, on Sunday, March 5, at 11.30am. Lunch is available if you could RSVP on sean. email@example.com. I look forward to seeing you then.
Sean Wood with internationallyacclaimed garden designer Paul HerveyBrookes and Harry Ousey’s paintings
The Laughing Badger Gallery, 99 Platt Street, Padfield, Glossop