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Stories from the garden..

Giles shares his design process and gives an insight in to the exciting and complex experiences of installing each of his unique sculptures.  His compelling stories highlight just how hands on he remains with his work and how risk taking is an integral part of the life of a fine artist!

Coriolis 

"Coriolis was the design that for its size, gave me the most headaches and sleepless nights… so far!

 

I have always liked to set a challenge, but this one still leaves me wondering how I decided to take such a leap of faith! I wanted to create a timeless design specifically for the new Rose Garden at Elton Hall that was both geometric and ethereal, and which could be reflected in some of the topiary hedge design.  In most cases, I can tell the viewer exactly why I designed a particular sculpture for a setting, but in this one, it seemed to arise from a gut instinct that is hard to pinpoint.

The water was to fall in gaps between spiralled coils so that it not only made a myriad of ‘drips’, but also rotated around the sculpture in an eye-catching overall movement.  This exterior was fixed in my mind, but the interior had to be strong yet solid, plus practical and water-bearing but also beautiful.  It was here that I used stainless steel within copper, spiralling it in the same direction, but more steeply so that it could give enough strength to the outer coils.

 

The sculpture was modelled around a steel cone, but actually mounting the outer spirals was certainly interesting – They had to be lowered from a scaffold as 4 layers that uncoiled themselves around the structure under gravity (needing much further adjustment prior to very complex welding).  The water was then piped up 4 of the hidden support tubes into an upper conical chamber, and down 4 more, exiting en-route and allowing the water to deliberately de-pressurise.

For the record, nobody other than the client believed me that it would work!"

Conical water feature in the gardens of a stately home.

Coriolis

Size: 13 feet.

Material: Re-enforced copper.

Location: Elton Hall, Cambridgeshire, UK

sunset with large water feature in a garden.

Topiary

Size: 12 feet.

Material: Copper.

Location: Castle Hill Estate, Devon, UK

Topiary

"This was a sculpture that seemed to encompass the perfect mixture of the old and modern without fitting into any era. 

It had to fit into the surroundings of a beautiful garden (designed by Xa Tollemache) of a historical building.

Castle Hill in Devon, surely one of the most beautiful houses in England.  The original design was a little heavier on the metalwork, the final drawing more ethereal and organic, as you see with the real thing.

I have since created two later incarnations of Topiary, and for those creations actually known what I was doing! The first was a bold, but slightly scary endeavour, as, only 3 years into my career and still relatively new to TIG welding, I undertook a design for which I had only sketchy ideas as to how I was going to build it.  The only relatively simple bit was the stainless steel base, as I designed it but got my amazing engineers in Totnes to actually fabricate it.

To this day I am still slightly unsure as to how I managed to do the welds on over 200 pieces of copper using the little 160 amp machine I had – it munched through fuses like French fries.  The intersections between spheres were particularly hard, and even turning the piece to access the other side required every ounce of my strength.  Every weld had to be cleaned up, and the entire surface sanded, I also hardened much of the lower sphere by hammer to increase strength.  I felt like Sisyphus in the Underworld for most of the time.  I realised that I was going to soon need a new workshop, it fitted out of the doors by about 2cm!

Finally getting this piece to its location, the stunning gardens of Castle Hill felt indeed like release from Hades, and getting the water on to cover the entire surface from the customised jet at the summit.  To see it at night, giving the illusion of moving in the light from the pool was a revelation indeed."

Twiggy

"One of my most unusual designs, this sculpture was first conceived by me in the form of a much smaller piece at Art School (Kingston) as a steel design that burst from a wall like a discharge of energy, the individual pieces flying apart and rotating away from their trajectory. The inspiration actually came from the Big Bang, and took much explaining to my peer group at Kingston, but it was well-received at the time.  The thought of ‘why not make it into a water-sculpture’ was on other minds beside my own, but the challenge in 2001 seemed quite significant.

This is a sculpture that nearly had other homes, and unlike most of my others was designed before it was located, and had the garden designed around it.  It was not until 2003 that I began to build it – quite a fun process, using unseen stainless steel in many of the pieces, though it quickly became apparent that it was going to be very heavy.

 

It had to channel water through it so that it could form a ‘rain’ at the top.  It was the last piece that I built in the Greenford workshop before I moved to the Cotswolds, and actually was briefly exhibited at Westonbirt Arboretum… where in the process of putting it upright, it rotated while we were lifting it and I found myself supporting this half-tonne monster on my shoulders (in some pain I might add!)

The name Twiggy was actually a nickname coined before I had even finished the piece. The original name became lost beneath it, and it stuck!

The installation at Canonteign house in 2004 was wonderful, and to see all 16ft of it soaring into the sky there was a great pleasure.  For the first time I was able to try out the ‘burst effect’ I had built into it as a secondary water channel.  Whereas the sculpture mostly produces a gentle rain, the auxiliary pump to the centre produces a jet that breaks up within the structure to form an energised mist.  My clients at Canonteign have been among my best patrons, with two further sculptures on the estate. "

Large water sculpture in front of a white house.

Twiggy

Size: 16 feet.

Material: Copper.

Location: Canonteign Estate, Devon.

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