Ever – a Work in Progress
An ongoing practice experiment to produce and display contemporary sculpture and installation inside and out for an 18th century cottage and garden in Brighstone village, Isle of Wight, UK.
The cottage and garden was secured in April 2018. In September 2019, full planning permission with listed building consent was granted for its change of use from ‘residential’ to a ‘sculpture, art and heritage space open to the public’.
Whilst there is much conservation, landscaping work to be done and sculpture to make, the intention is to ‘soft’ open May 2020 one or two days of the week to visitors.
Brighstone is found midway along on the South West coast of the Isle of Wight. A coastline that stretches between the Needles in the West, Freshwater Bay, the beaches of Compton, Brook and Brighstone Bay, Blackgang Chine and St Catherine’s Point lighthouse to the east.
In the village, the garden is located at its’ centre, but tucked away out of sight. It is found within a stone’s throw of the village car park, the pub, the thatched newsagent, the village shop, the primary school and the frequently photographed row of National Trust thatched cottages, one of which is the village museum.
The cottage was only listed in 2009. It is described as an example of “a dwelling that contains a significant proportion of its original fabric. The original plan form of the house survives intact and the history of its use and development can be traced in its fabric and fixtures. A three-up, three-down, lobby-entrance plan cottage dating to the C18 or possibly earlier, built of snecked clunch blocks (hard chalk), local saltstone and brick, with a clay peg tile half-hipped roof.”
Inside, there was no need felt for ultra-modern conveniences, no seamless fitted kitchen or central heating entangled throughout. As such, it is ideal throughout as a space to interact with and experience how the place was constructed, and lived in over time.
The cottage had previously been in the local Trickett family for at least 100 years and was last lived in by Lucy Trickett who was the local school caretaker. Her brother Archie Trickett, who was also born there, became a skilled and inventive joiner/engineer. He could turn his hand to many a challenge from an early age; building the (still remaining) sink-unit and dresser at the cottage for his parents in 1944 when he was 21. Later, Archie built the adjacent wooden chalet in part of the cottage’s garden for himself and his soon-to-be bride Betty, which was completed circa 1956.
In the 1980s, the cottage’s simpler flat thatched roof had fallen due for replacement and it was Archie who undertook transforming it from thatch to clay peg tiles. This change required the roof purlins to be replaced and set at a shallower angle. Archie carefully shaped them to form and span the upper windows to the sculptural rolling profile over the eyebrow dormers seen today.
Archie passed away in 2011, aged 89. Happily, Betty Trickett still lives in the chalet today, a fount of knowledge and wisdom – and a great enthusiast for the project.
The Garden at Ever
The garden itself has changed from a small holding to a pleasure garden and back again over the years. Documentation shows a bulk growing of fruit and vegetables at one time where lawns now stand. In the drought of 1976, Archie Trickett built an american-style wind pump from recycled stainless steel sinks. Standing in the adjacent chalet’s garden, this pump circulated grey waste water to both gardens. It is still turning effortlessly, but sadly not connected.
The landscaping work currently underway will provide accessible, all weather pathways around to several garden ‘zones’ on all four sides of the cottage. The main flowering borders in front of the cottage will be kept and a ‘courtyard’ area to the rear will be formed in the area that once housed chickens.
Sculpture for Ever
The intention is to produce and display over time, both inside and out, quality sculpture reflecting contemporary sculptural practice. Works would be carefully integrated into the many contexts of the cottage to provide an enhanced experience of both.
Some works will be created to be shown on a short term basis, others will be more permanent and made over time in direct response to the cottage, its garden, materials and social history.
Materials in use would likely refer to (but not be limited by) those materials found around the cottage and grounds. Equally, the forms taken of works might be devised as a dialogue with the masses and shapes of the cottage and garden elements, structures and volumes.
Above images: A selection of installed works, archive images and from open days in 2018/19. More open day images can also be found under Soft Installs.
Ever will be ‘soft’ opening for the 2020 season, on one or two days a week, from May. The exact date and days to be announced.
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