Sculpture in the Garden

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Doddington Hall East Front, completed in 1600

Doddington Hall East Front, completed in 1600

During the summer of 2016 I visited the sculpture exhibition at Doddington Hall, Lincoln. Doddington hosts a sculpture exhibition every two years within it's extensive formal gardens and clearly it has become a very significant event attracting noteworthy artists and impressive works of art.

I live close to Doddington Hall, visit it regularly and know it well but this is the first time I had visited the Sculpture Exhibition, it left we wondering why I hadn't been before, it was spectacular.

Photographically speaking, living close means my social media streams are full of photos of the sculptures over the summer and this maybe explains why I haven't been more motivated to visit in previous years. Sculptures are displayed in a very careful manner to show them off at their best so the majority of photos are very similar, photographed at eye level from the 'obvious' viewpoints.

Trying to photograph in a unique manner is extremely difficult in this situation but I approached my visit with an open mind and spent some time on a beautiful late summer afternoon exploring the exhibition, the environment and trying to discover the personality of the overall event.

Whilst the sculptures are very beautiful, fascinating & at times very thought provoking the aspect that I felt makes this event unique is the environment & location of each item within the landscape of the gardens themselves. It becomes very clear that the exhibition is very carefully & expertly curated and the sculptures draw so much from their surroundings, including those surroundings therefore provides a unique context & takes simple photos of the sculptures to another level.

The challenge to producing good images at times is separating a subject from it's background and when sculptures are produced from or created in the form of natural materials this can be difficult. This collection of winged figures makes a perfect triptych but in order to maintain consistency of image, they needed 'lifting; from their background with a wide aperture.

Its an indication of the success of the exhibition that wandering through the gardens you can't help but spot the inspiration that nature provides. Shooting these details closely cropped with just a hint of surroundings allows the viewer to fill in the space with their own imagination, the phrase 'less is more' is one I use often.

The 'Doddington Dragon' was a stunning welcome to the exhibition and a real demonstration of accessible art. A willow creation by Carole Beavis, visitors were encouraged to take a swatch of fabric and attach it to the sculpture. Over the duration of the installation the Dragon came to life with colour & movement as the swatches intermingled & fluttered in the breeze.

Choosing a high contrast black & white conversion enhances the texture & pattern of the woven willow, exposing another dimension to figure otherwise 'hidden' behind the distraction of colour.

all photographs taken on Canon 7d with 18-55mm f2.8 lens set in aperture priority at all times, ISO100 and processed in Adobe Lightroom.