The day was warm, the sky blue – a perfect day to visit the Sculpture In Context in the National Botanic Gardens. The exhibition series that began in 1985 has been held in various places around Dublin; namely, Dublin Castle, Farmleigh and Kilmainham Gaol to mention a few. But since 2002 it has found a home in the Gardens, and a most suitable home it is too.
In the Visitor Centre I got a Map & Guide to the Gardens, and then went upstairs to the Gallery where a number of small exhibits are on show. The room, with a long wave-like glass wall looking onto the Gardens beyond, is a real treat and a wonderful space for an exhibition. And the sun streamed in showing the exhibits ‘in the best light’. There are just enough pieces on show to make it comfortable to move about easily and view all the exhibits. Some rest on window ledges, some on small stands like Sun Offering by Eamonn Ceannt which might the smallest piece on show. Everyone will find something of interest and the colours are intriguing.
Outside, check your map and head off on botanical mystery tour. Every path leads to something interesting, and you should keep your eyes wide open so as to spot the exhibits in unexpected places. It’s fun, a long way away from the small galleries where they are usually shown. Children, especially, love the colours and the playful, entertaining settings. Pieces can be found in trees, gardens, the Great Palm House, ponds and lawns.
At the end of the Gardens, near the ponds, a number of ‘fishy’ exhibits are not to be missed. Also, there is the recently unveiled ‘What Is Life?’ piece by Charles Jencks. It celebrates the 60th anniversary of the discovery of DNA by James Watson and Francis Crick, for which they won the 1962 Nobel Prize for Medicine. Watson, who was on hand when the piece was unveiled in April, said he was inspired to study chemistry when he read Erwin Schrödinger’s famous paper What is Life? in the 1940s. The great Austrian scientist, who was living in Dublin at the time, presented his groundbreaking work during a series of lectures in February 1943 in Trinity College.
So, if you go down to the Gardens today there is much to see and enjoy!