I am still buzzing from the triumph that was RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017. Hamish Mackie Sculptures in a CCLA Terraced Garden won 5 stars!! After eight years exhibiting at Chelsea, I am really proud to have earned the highest award for a trade stand.
I want to say a huge thank you to Rachael White for her inspired garden design, which along with the beautiful painted murals by Susannah Lampard and sensitive planting and construction by Z. Laszlo Landscaping, made for a truly spectacular exhibit.
It can be difficult for traders to make a really impactful display. One has to balance the budget for decorating the stand with potential sales. I have always felt my work was a natural fit with the flower show and wanted to produce an attractive showcase with a horticultural element. Being part of this century-old world famous show, one also feels a responsibility to give visitors a feast for the eyes! So we were incredibly grateful to our sponsors CCLA who made it possible for Rachael and I to create a stand that had great visual impact and complemented my sculptures perfectly. Among those exhibited were Lapwing, Serval Cat Head, Swift, and Giraffe Head Study.
We were once again in prime position, opposite the M & G Garden designed by James Basson which deservedly won a Gold Medal and Best Show Garden. Inspired by an abandoned Maltese quarry, it featured limestone blocks planted with grasses and perennials (some grown from the quarry weeds) unique to the island. I loved seeing all the gardens being developed during the hectic build period prior to opening. James’s garden boasted a stone column which required a fifteen metre deep foundation!
I also liked James Alexander Sinclair’s design for Zoe Ball’s Listening Garden, one of five BBC Radio 2 Feel Good Gardens. Beneath the ground and unheard, music played through underwater speakers in three long troughs. The bass produced ripples and patterns on the surface of the water and the gravel around them pulsates. It was an amazing sensation and very clever.
Press day was fun and like every other stall holder, we took lots of photographs with the celebrities that dropped in to see us, including Dame Judi Dench OBE, Jeremy Vine, Jennifer Saunders OBE, Deborah Meaden, Nigel Havers, and Alan Titchmarsh. I was very honoured to also receive a visit from HRH Prince Philip who admired my Life size Cheetah and Cheetah Chase. Another member of the Royal Family who bought a Robin from my solo exhibition last year, came to say hello. The private view for all my collectors was a bit of a social whirl, catching up with old friends and discussing new bronze sculpture commissions.
I particularly enjoyed the private views at the end of the day when the crowds had dispersed. It was a special time, a welcome chance to walk around in the early evening sun, see the amazing gardens and chat to other exhibitors. I got to really appreciate the incredible vision and hard work that goes into each individual contribution.
The May weather was glorious and got hotter and hotter as the week went on. Rachael’s beautiful design had a terrace area which was a lovely place to sit and enjoy the afternoon. Watching the bees humming around our plants and pollinating the flowers, it felt like being in a Cotswold country garden. Although we were in Chelsea with 160,000 other visitors! The hordes of people at the show provide a real contrast to life in my studio which is fairly solitary. I love the change in tempo and felt very energised by the week. It was great to be able to chat to people about my work and show off the new sculptures. The voice box was a little worn by the end of the week!
The reception to the new work was so encouraging. We sold eight of my Boxing Hares 2017, and Sir Winston Churchill 2017 had buyers from Qatar, Adelaide, and Shropshire! I like to think of him in collections all over the world. Even more exciting is that he is also going to Blenheim Palace. I’m thrilled to know that my study of him will be on display at his birthplace.
It was definitely a vintage year at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017! CFS 2018 will have a lot to live up to.
But now it’s back to work at the studio. I’ve been busy boxing up sculptures to go out to Germany, Switzerland, the USA and Australia. I’ve made a start on my next commission, a life size Fallow Deer… I’ll be posting more about new sculptures very soon, so watch this space.