De­signer fell in love with ab­stract paint­ings

Macclesfield Express - - THE LAUGHING BADGER - SEAN WOOD

‘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. wood@talk21.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

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