The Four Seasons is a collection of larger-than-life busts by contemporary American sculptor and ﬁlmmaker Philip Haas. Open from March until the end of September these stunning sculptures depicting Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter are now on display at RHS Garden Wisley.
The exhibition will give visitors the opportunity to see the sculptures on show in the UK for only the second time ever. The team at Gabriel Ash were invited to an exclusive launch party hosted by TV presenter Nicki Chapman. The relationship between Gabriel Ash and the RHS has been a long standing one which has been going strong for over ten years.
Gabriel Ash were one of the founding suppliers in their endorsed products campaign. We are proud to be the only timber framed greenhouse endorsed by the RHS. Nowhere more so is this relationship seen, than at the RHS Garden Wisley.
Over the last few years we have been proud to have our greenhouses populate these beautiful gardens. We now have four structures on display with a Classic 8x10 and a RHS Wisley Greenhouse in the ‘Edibles Garden’ and two large buildings including a large extended Classic and Grand Grow and Store greenhouse in the Allotments area which are used by the students and admired by the public daily.
Our four beautiful greenhouses now have some competition from the four larger than life sculptures that are on display in the gardens. ‘The Four Seasons’ are a collection of giant busts (each standing 15ft high) inspired by 16th century Renaissance paintings by Italian artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo.
The detailed pieces depict Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter in human form, rendered in exuberant and thought-provoking arrangements of seasonal fruit, vegetables, ﬂowers and crops. When you ﬁrst enter the garden you will see the ﬁrst sculpture, Summer, thoughtfully positioned on the main lawn in front of the Terrace restaurant. From this vantage you can also see the Spring sculpture in the distance, tempting you on a journey into the gardens.
A self-guided map will lead visitors around the garden to the locations of all the sculptures. The cost of the exhibition will be included in standard garden admission. We arrived at the gardens early to both take in the beautiful gardens in their spring splendour and also to enjoy the sculpture in private before the launch party began. We were delighted by the reaction to the sculptures with visitors of all ages keen to get up close and as you might imagine lots of Selﬁes were being taken with them.
The children in particular were blown away with both the scale and the adventure to ﬁnd the next sculpture on the list! The evening started with Nicki Chapman raising the question of the ﬁne line between both art and gardening and how the two often cross over. She too had spent some time in the gardens enjoying the sculpture and she had the mud on her boots to prove it. Phillip Haas then spoke of the journey the sculptures had been on since the ﬁrst one, Winter, was created back in 2010. The remaining three sculptures were ﬁnished by 2012 and they have been on public display all over the world. Philip explained a little about the process to ship and install these magniﬁcent sculptures and how they had come over from Baltimore to their current location at Wisley.
Philip Haas says “I embarked upon the Four Seasons project wanting to re-contextualise Arcimboldo’s 16th-century nature imagery within the 21st-century physical world, through changes in scale, material and dimensionality. With the exhibition taking place at Wisley over multiple seasons, another transformation will occur to alter and enrich the viewer's perspective – the passage of time, the play of light and weather on the sculptures.”
The evening was brought to a close with RHS Garden Wisley Curator Matthew Pottage giving his thoughts on working with Philip Haas and how together they considered and selected settings for each piece, to encourage visitor interaction with the sculpture. In many of the previous locations the sculptures have often been sited together, siting them at separate locations at Wisley the aim is to allow each piece to be appreciated individually within the landscape, with their extraordinary scale matched by Wisley’s grand vistas. “The maquettes were hugely popular with people of all ages – how could you fail to be enchanted by this verdant vision of Spring, or caught in Winter’s unﬂinching gaze?” says Matthew Pottage. “Naturally we were delighted for the opportunity to showcase the full-size artworks in the garden and we know our visitors will be just as excited to experience them as Philip Haas intended.
Wisley’s unique landscapes offer exciting new ways to view the works, and the sculpture will take on a different character as the garden moves through the seasons.” Matthew also commented on the hope that these sculptures would help inﬂuence a new generation of younger visitors with the hope they might go away and create their own versions of the sculptures. The evening concluded with a tour of the sculptures and true to form we had to view them in the worst of the spring weather when right on cue the heavens opened for our tour.
Fortunately the RHS provided us all with umbrellas and despite the rain the mood could not be dampened. We are certain these sculptures will be a great success and if the reaction we saw was anything to go by from our visit, we are certain they will inspire the next generation of artists and gardeners.