Even on a stormy spring day and before the wildflower meadow at Ladew Topiary Gardens emerges, it’s alive with stunning flowers and wildlife.
“Seeds, Steeds and Beautiful Weeds,” Ladew’s 45th anniversary outdoor sculpture exhibit by Matthew Harris, was installed before the gardens opened for the season and continues through October 31.
With the work of this year’s artist-in-residence, Ladew for the first time features a vibrant, outdoor exhibition of sculpture inspired by the surrounding gardens.
First, there’s a floral gate of forged steel, entitled “Into the Gardens Door.”
And even before the My Lady’s Manor Steeplechase races (Saturday, April 16), there’s a horse named “Resilience” on grounds.
“Ironweed,” of forged and fabricated painted steel, creates a focal point across the meadow. It caused some smoking as Harris soldered its pieces together as he installed it two weeks ago.
Nearby stand whimsical, gigantic multiflora roses: “Except the Thorns.”
Harris, whose work is featured in the Ruxton garden of A.C. and Penney Hubbard and in my recently released book about that garden, On Walnut Hill: The Evolution of Garden, worked on this collection of sculpture for Ladew all winter.
“While I may begin with an idea in mind,” he says, “through the course of the creative process, an idea may emerge that is superior to the original one in context and form.” The pieces seem to taken on a life of their own. They change as Harris works on them and again as he installs them. “Sculpture is as much about the space that it contains and surrounds, as it is about the work itself.”
And as the meadow comes to life around his sculptures, they will surely take on another dimension and, in his words become “visual music.”
The exhibit provides a compelling counterpoint to the formal art collection in the manor house as well as to the topiary, statuary and surrounding gardens.
On Wednesday, April 13 at 10:30 a.m., Matthew Harris and Jann Rosen-Queralt, on the faculty of the Maryland Institute College of Art, will explore the role of sculpture in the outdoors and lead a tour of Harris’s work in the meadow. For more information call 410-557-9570 or visit www.LadewGardens.com
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