Arts and Crafts - Exhibition at Marchants Hardy Plants

On Monday a visitor popped into Viva Lewes, a former opera director called Rebecca Meitlis, who wanted to tell me about a weekend exhibition in the garden of Marchants Hardy Plants in Laughton, taking place this weekend. I didn’t expect much, but she came equipped with photographs of some of the work that will be on show, and it looks like it will be a fascinating and rather beautiful event, featuring the work of a number of highly original and rather high-class craftspeople. One of the stars of the show will be the garden itself. Graham Gough is a former opera singer who has turned his attention to selling exotic grasses and unusual perennials from his land in Laughton. Such things as Agapanthus, Kniphofia, Sedum, Miscanthus and Molinia, if that means anything to you. The garden is full of these breeds, which are on sale in the ‘Potting Palace’.

Rebecca’s own plant pots will be on show. She is a specialist in using ash glazes. “Each type of tree gives a different sort of quality,” she says. “My husband is a pyromaniac, and we are donated all sorts of dead fruit trees, which he burns.” The searing white heat of the kiln melts and vitrifies the ash, which settles onto the pots. Also dotted around the garden will be Sarah Walton’s amazing birdbaths. Sarah lives at the foot of the Downs, and her pieces, which are very sculptural, reflect the roundedness of the hills. The works are salt glazed, an interesting process which involves salt being thrown into a special kiln; the sodium vapour it releases melts the surface of her clay creations, and forms a unique and interestingly uneven glaze. The baths are specifically designed for birds to fit into their contours, and I’m told they make a nice focal point in the garden. (continued overleaf)...

One of Sarah Walton’s beautiful bird-brained ideas