Sculpture is one of those art forms that can be just about anything that has a third dimension. But often its purpose is only known by the designer. The meaning gets lost on the rest of us, yet we often say, ‘oh yes, of course’ and provide some acknowledgment that we understand fully what’s happening.
At the end of the day it doesn’t matter what you look at.
It’s the interruption in a green space that brings your eye to a halt or the piece adds to what you are seeing that is important.
Bevis Bawa’s homoerotic statues strategically placed around his Sri Lankan garden “The Brief”are more of a classical sculptured stone, or marble material, often in the Grecian or Roman classical shapes.
Other gardens that either commission an artist or have someone who can turn their hand to assembling a sum of a few bits into an interesting piece can take on a more contemporary presentation.
Then you can stand and consider what the artist had in mind and see if you agree.
It’s a bit like working your way through a contemporary art exhibition.
Sculpture is a good kids’ activity. Children can make piles of stones next to reasonable-quality gnomes and elves (if they exist).
Another interesting thing they can make is a shallow water pot with a favourite little terracotta sculpture from the garden centre.
Sculpture can also be made from materials other than something that has been constructed for the purpose.
A set of stone steps gently embraced by some ground cover on either end can make for a form or shape that adds to a garden experience. Baldfaced boulders of a naturally occurring rock wall will do the same.
Letter boxes have some interest, an old garden seat that had been painted a riotous red or, depending on the style of the garden, dare I say painted rocks.
But when the rocks that edge a garden are painted in the owner’s favourite football team’s colours, that is verging on sculptural sacrilege.