Piece written by Gavin Friday about the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin for Sculpture in Context 2006, Glasnevin, Dublin 9
The National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin Dublin is in my mind quite possibly the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of Northside Dublin… yes there is more to the Northside than the Airport… lots more… but the ‘Bots’, as I call it, has a special place in my heart. It was where myself and my mates, way back in the early 1970’s, spent many a summer Sunday. We were gob-smacked by it’s beauty we had never seen the likes of it . We were no longer in the grey suburbia that was the Northside in the ’70’s …we were in ‘The Garden of Eden’. exotic flowers…. plants…. trees the size of Liberty Hall…. and if you ventured into the magnificent glasshouses….well it was like hanging out with Queen Victoria in the rain forests of South America except….it was Ireland…. we owned it… it was free in, and that’s not to mention…. it was “The Place “ to check out or meet the local “Talent”.
Those were the days before true “Teenage Rampage” kicked in and we all formed Bands and started to build our own “Gardens of Eden”.
About two years ago I had a photo session to do for the Sunday Independent and, off the cuff, I decided to do it in the ‘Bots’ … something very magical hit me … yes the ‘Bots’ was still as beautiful….even more so due to it’s recent refurbishing, but something was different … SCULPTURE.
All over the gardens was the most amazing collection of sculpture all intertwined with the trees and plants and all the glorious surroundings that the ‘Bots’ holds … from Surrealistic Monkeys hanging from the trees … to Cloned Genetically Modified Sheep eating the grass … to Metal Cacti … to Friendly Concrete Slugs hanging out by the pool…to Winged Angels descending on the Rockery … it was extraordinary. It was ART where it should be … out in the open for all to see … no snobbery just ART. Sculpture in Context’s people were behind it …. and this year again they are casting their magical spell all over the ‘Botanic Gardens’. ART should be like the flowers, plants and trees we should feel and see it spontaneously … ‘Sculpture in Context’ debunks the myth that one has to be ‘educated’ or ‘intellectual’ to appreciate or enjoy Sculpture / Art.
This is ART for the people without any of the deep and meaningful crap that a lot of the galleries have smothered ART with … yes, I know ART can be deep and meaningful but it should not be ELITIST … it should be OUT THERE FOR ALL … and let them make their own minds up…. actually they don’t even have to do that…. just Feel and Enjoy it … bring your children … bring your granny…. or go alone you’d never know it may inspire a budding five-year-old Picasso-To-Be … or better still if you check out the ‘Talent’ you may even fall in love.