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Savill Gardens Exhibition Report

Odette by Bernard Miles Pearson

As the wife of a sculptor, when I became a ‘Friend of SSS’ back in 2003, I never imagined I would one day be managing one of their exhibitions. Having assisted Jonathan throughout the years with various deliveries, installations, stewarding, enquiries and admin, it was with a bit of trepidation that I accepted Henriette’s invitation for both of us to manage this exhibition. The clincher was that this would not be a stewarded event and, therefore, less admin to action before and during the event.

The Savill Garden, part of The Crown Estate and Windsor Great Park, invited SSS back to exhibit this year after a few years break. From the start it was going to be a different type of SSS Exhibition with their front of house Sales Desk taking care of all sales and enquiries.

Falling straight after the RHS Wisley Exhibition, it was surprising we had over 150 applications. At the SSS pre-selection meeting we narrowed the 150 applications down to 80 pieces, aiming to get each artist in with at least one piece. We presented the selection to The Savill Garden at a team meeting and pushed as many pieces and artists through as we could. In the end they selected 62 pieces representing 44 artists. Unfortunately a few artists were not selected by The Savill Garden team. The variety of sales reflects the success of the mix of media that were selected.

The good news is that The Savill Garden and The Crown Estate were so pleased with the exhibition and increased visitor numbers that they have invited us back for 2019. This time they plan to extend the exhibition to cover 2 months - Oct and Nov (dates to be confirmed) and increase the number of pieces on display to about 70.

The trail was designed by Mehran Ghahari over a course of four visits on some very hot days. She worked with the Savill Gardeners to create an exciting trail with the right balance and representation, and pieces sold from all areas of the garden and the Temperate House. We had very positive feedback from the Savill team, public and artists regarding the trail design, and this helped contribute to an overall successful exhibition.

As this was not a SSS stewarded event, all sales and enquiries were handled through The Savill Garden Sales Desk. Given that they

Mother by Mehran Ghahari

worked in different shifts and this was a new experience for them, they handled everything efficiently, including enquiries. They were briefed beforehand and were equipped with the Artist File and artist sheets and info, as well as SSS sales books, etc.

We pretty much sold something every day and the total number of sculptures sold was 58. Victoria Hunt managed to sell 14 Large Flower Trios! Sales were up significantly on the event a few years ago, as well as visitor numbers compared to same period last year and against the previous exhibition.

Looking at all the Instagram photos and social media, the visitors enjoyed the wonderful weather and the sculpture trail. We even had a secret Royal visit but I can’t say anymore (and no, she didn’t buy anything)!

In addition to the gardeners checking the sculptures and cleaning the bird mess, Nora Cook made regular visits and kept an eye on things. (Thanks Nora!)

Savill produced all the marketing materials, banners and trail brochure as well as the ‘interpretation labels’ that a number of people remarked on, positively. I even had one customer request if she could have the label for the piece she bought, as she liked the description. (Memo to those few who did not submit sculpture descriptions!) In total, just under 6000 maps were used during this exhibition.

Henriette van der Does ran a sculpture workshop for the Primary Times Competition Winner. Only one family was able to attend but the prize winners were extremely happy with their ghost sculpture.

A big thank you to Carol Orwin for helping to guide us through this experience and Lynda Lawrence who helped with the communications side.

The Savill Garden team was a joy to work with, enthusiastic, capable, helpful and looking forward to 2019’s exhibition.

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