The amaz­ing sculp­tures of Giles Rayner

Wa­ter and sculp­tures are noth­ing new in gar­dens, but one Cotswold artist is com­bin­ing the two, says Mandy Brad­shaw

Cotswold Life - - INSIDE -

Know­ing the sleek lines of Giles Rayner’s work, I half ex­pect his stu­dio to have the same con­tem­po­rary edge, some­thing that re­flects the in­no­va­tive na­ture of his pieces. In fact, his workspace is an old barn de­void of any frills and set in the heart of the Cotswold coun­try­side near Tet­bury.

Of course, it is the per­fect place for art that is es­sen­tially man and metal, a re­la­tion­ship con­ducted through pow­er­ful tools, heat and chem­i­cals.

And the ru­ral lo­ca­tion suits Giles, who sees his work as a com­bi­na­tion of cre­ativ­ity and en­gi­neer­ing.

“What I love about liv­ing here in Stroud Val­ley is you have this in­dus­trial her­itage mixed in with beau­ti­ful gar­den scenery,” he says.

When we meet, he’s fin­ish­ing a piece that’s des­tined for Bath Rugby Club and it’s fill­ing the barn; I’m warned not to touch it as Giles has just ap­plied ni­tric acid to give the cop­per an aged blue­green patina.

Shiny cop­per is nice but it can be quite hard to keep long-term,” he ex­plains.

Three twisted spheres made of more than 300 pieces of metal are be­ing welded to­gether with the metal pipework a con­duit for wa­ter that will mag­i­cally ap­pear from a series of jets. Such is the com­plex­ity of the piece, there are three sep­a­rate con­trols, al­low­ing the wa­ter pres­sure to be minutely con­trolled.

“I wanted to get a real light­ness to the cir­cle,” says Giles, gaz­ing at the mass of cop­per and turquoise metal. “With a lot of the pieces I do try to get this ethe­real light­ness, which works quite well with the wa­ter. It brings them alive.”

Cer­tainly, there is some­thing mes­meris­ing about his sculp­tures be they sinewy loops, geo­met­ric cubes or vast whirlpools where the wa­ter seems al­most to cling to the sides of basins, tempt­ing you to run fin­gers through it.

His pieces are in­stalled across the coun­try and abroad in Amer­ica, Thai­land and Swe­den. He ex­hibits reg­u­larly at Chelsea Flower Show and has con­trib­uted sculp­ture to sev­eral nurs­ery stands and show gar­dens; this year, he made a ‘le­mon peel’ piece for David Neale’s Space to Grow gar­den cel­e­brat­ing Silent Pool gin.

Yet, it was a ca­reer that wasn’t meant to be. Giles, who stud­ied busi­ness eco­nomics at Ex­eter Univer­sity, was des­tined for a job in fi­nance. Hav­ing earned some money with a City sum­mer job, he de­cided to travel, first to Botswana and then to Switzer­land where a snow­board­ing ac­ci­dent left him in plas­ter for three months.

“I re­alised I could not sit at a desk when I came back,” he re­calls.

Re­turn­ing to his fam­ily’s Devon home, he helped his fa­ther build a foun­tain for a hol­i­day cot­tage com­plex. A re­quest for some­thing sim­i­lar for Burn­coose Nurs­eries’ Chelsea stand fol­lowed.

Photo: Sean Con­boy

The Arches of Oman, by Giles Rayner

Photo: AJ Heath Pho­tog­ra­phy

Cotswold artist sculp­tor Giles Rayner

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