The public unveiling of the Centenary Seat was featured in an article in the Teignmouth Post and Mid-Devon Advertiser :
A splash of colour at Shaldon gardens
FRIENDS of Homeyards Botanical Gardens in Shaldon celebrated the official opening of a new artwork on Wednesday, marking 100 years since the founding of the gardens.
The artwork, created by Michelle Greenwood Brown and Alison Miles, was a colourful octagonal seat with naturalistic ceramic decoration.
The opening ceremony was held on a sunny evening, and featured a presentation on the history of the gardens, refreshments and even a cake modelled on the art itself. Much of the community turned out for the event, as well as volunteers from the Friends of the Garden group.
The piece aimed to reflect the many changing colours of the gardens, while also acting as a place where members of the community can come together and socialise.
Each piece of the mosaic was inspired by something in the garden, and then meticulously designed and arranged on each panel of the seat. Michelle Greenwood Brown, one of the artists behind the piece, originally studied fine art but later taught herself the intricacies of mosaics and ceramics.
Michelle said: ‘I wanted the seat to blend in but also reflect the garden, so we took photographs of the garden over the course of a year, I got pictures of every flower, toadstool, shell and leaf so that the seat kind of reflects a year in the garden
‘We then created the flowers and leaves of the garden in ceramics, using them to imprint the pieces with real patterns. Then it was the case of looking at how the garden grows and behaves, and then putting the mosaic together based on these natural processes’
Michelle and Alison also put on three community events throughout the summer for local people to come and contribute to the piece. Many of the lower panels were created from these community sessions.
Homeyards Botanical Gardens were originally created as a private garden during the 1920s for William and Maria Homeyard, who bought up and connected several fields and planted 365 rare and interesting botanical plant species.
Even after 100 years, the Garden continues to thrive, thanks to the care and support of the Friends of Homeyards Botanical Gardens, a volunteer group that helps to maintain the park, organise educational and community events and importantly serve hot teas from the castle.
The octagonal seat was created on the castle terrace, where the founder of the Garden – Mrs Homeyard – originally constructed a birdbath in the 1920s, a feature that was memorialised within the artwork.
Alison Melville-Shreeve, Chair of the Friends of Homeyards Botanical Gardens group, said: ‘The artwork will provide a positive experience for the community as a focus to sit, play and picnic and presents a bright feature on the terrace. We were so pleased to see his it blends in so cleverly with the natural colours of the gardens.
‘Michelle and Alison have been working behind the scenes on the project for well over a year as well as holding several workshops for the community to contribute some of the interesting pieces which have been included on the lower panels and another workshop for help with paint- ing the stoneware leaves and flowers.
‘We’d like to sincerely congratulate and thank both Michelle and Alison for giving us this artwork for the community and our visitors. It has already received a huge number of appreciative comments.
‘I would also like to raise a big thank you to all our volunteers whether it be those helping in the gardens, keeping the castle clean or serving teas and coffees from the castle terraces. Also the trustees and committee for helping to coordinate everything we do.’
Chris Clarance, Parish and District Councillor and long-standing Shaldon resident, said: ‘I’d like to thank Alison and Michelle for their hard work, and all the volunteers who work year-round to keep these gardens as nice as they are.’