22nd March 2022
A new contemporary art exhibition marking the centenary of Furzey Gardens and celebrating the work of people with learning disabilities goes on display at the site from Friday 29 April 2022.
Created by artist Anna Cady, working with people from Minstead Trust, ‘Not just a garden’ is an installation of films, images, and memorabilia looking at Furzey Gardens’ 100-year history and its role today as a place of support and work experience for people with learning disabilities.
The installation explores people and stories connected to the gardens, including English explorer and botanist, Francis Kingdon-Ward, who was a plant hunter for Furzey Gardens in the 1920s. Using letters, stamps, maps and other ephemera, visitors will be able to discover stories connected to Kingdon-Ward’s travels and his role in Furzey Gardens’ history.
The installation includes cyanotype prints, referencing the type of photography used by Francis Kingdon-Ward. A gallery of cyanotypes made by people with learning disabilities will be on display in Furzey Gardens’ tea rooms alongside pictures showing them being created.
Short films inspired by the gardens and their history will be installed in the attic of Furzey Gardens’ 16th century cottage, including one made with people with learning disabilities celebrating their gardening skills, and their great success in winning the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee RHS Gold Medal at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2012.
In the cottage garden, Anna will be installing interactive ‘sound pots’ that will contain stories recorded by the people that work at Furzey.
Artist Anna Cady said: “The reason we’ve called the exhibition, ‘Not just a garden’ is because Furzey Gardens is also about the people, they’re the ones that make it such a special and inspiring place.
“It was so important to work in collaboration with the people that look after the gardens to create the installation. I knew I wanted to use a technique that would give people the freedom to unleash their creativity and make something they could be proud of.
“Cyanotypes produce such beautiful colours and they provide an instant magic as the image appears on the paper. It seemed the perfect artform for us to explore the gardens and be creative together.”
Furzey Gardens is part of Minstead Trust, which supports 220 people with learning disabilities to gain greater independence and lead fulfilled lives. Furzey Gardens celebrates its centenary in 2022.
First developed by the Dalrymple family in the 1920s, Furzey Gardens was saved from demolition by Tim Selwood – founder of Minstead Trust – in 1972. It was established as a charitable trust in 1973 and today more than 30 people with learning disabilities and 20 volunteers work with head gardener, Pete White, to maintain the gardens and bring on plants in the nursery.
Jay Powell from Furzey Gardens said: “What makes us unique is our pioneering approach to providing learning and training opportunities to people with learning disabilities. In our centenary year, we wanted to celebrate the people that help make Furzey Gardens such a special place.
“Anna’s focus on collaborative working was something that really excited us because her work shows what people with learning disabilities can achieve. Everyone that worked with Anna is really proud of what they’ve created and that’s an important feeling to instill in people.”
‘Not just a garden’ is presented as part of Meeting Point, a national programme led by contemporary arts agency Arts&Heritage (www.artsandheritage.org.uk) that partners leading UK and international artists with museums and heritage sites to produce new artworks inspired by the museums and their collections.
Steph Allen, Executive Director at Arts&Heritage said: “Anna’s work has always championed and celebrated people in society that are often underrepresented.
“By involving people with learning disabilities in the creation of her work, Anna has embraced the ethos of Furzey Gardens and is helping tell its story through art, expression and creativity.”
‘Not just a garden’ will be on display at Furzey Gardens from Friday 29 April until 18 December.
For more information, visit www.furzey-gardens.org
For more information about Anna Cady, visit www.annacady.com.