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Scupture Exhibition 2007

Sculpture Exhibition 2007

Masters and Emerging Sculptors

The annual sculpture exhibition of Leicester Harold Martin Botanic Garden opens 30th June until 30th September 2007

ISSUED: 21 June 2007

This year, the highly popular annual sculpture exhibition held in the tranquillity of the University of Leicester Harold Martin Botanic Garden is presenting something novel that can be seen scarcely anywhere else in the country. Visitors to the 16-acre landscaped gardens will have a rare opportunity to see sculptures by internationally renowned contemporary masters alongside works by emerging artists.

All the 36 artists are from the famous Studio Sem in Pietrasanta, Italy, this year celebrating its 50th anniversary.

From here, in the 1960s, came works by Henry Moore, Alicia Penalba, André Bloc, Georges Adam, Pierre Dmitrienko, Branko Ruzic and Emile Gilioli. Some internationally acclaimed artists to have emerged more recently from Studio Sem, whose work will be on display in this year’s exhibition, include Barry Flanagan, Knut Steen, Maja van Hall, Ans Hey and Helaine Blumenfeld.

Among their number is Peter Randall Page, whose sculpture acclaimed ‘the largest stone sculpture since Easter Island’ was featured recently in The Times, following its installation at the Eden Project in Cornwall.

It is Helaine Blumenfeld who has been the inspiration behind the University’s Sculpture in the Garden exhibitions since they started five years ago.

She commented: “This exhibition provides an exceptional opportunity to see a cross-section of sculpture being produced by sculptors of every age group – early 20s to mid 80s – and from Norway, Holland, France, Korea, Japan, Germany, Italy, England, Sweden, Canada, the USA and Argentina.

“All these sculptors have worked in the same great studio in Pietrasanta, a studio which is itself a legend for having produced the works of so many great sculptors and which this year is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

“This exhibition is about the passion of the artist for the material, for the subject matter, for the very act of creating. We think this is communicated in the work itself and will affect the viewer accordingly.”

The information given about the sculptures and their creators will not divulge the age of the sculptor, his/her training or previous exhibitions.

Viewers will have the opportunity to take part in a competition to identify who are the masters and who the emerging artists. Prizes will be awarded for the most accurate answers.

A list of participating sculptors, in order of their appearance in the exhibition, will be available inside the fold out leaflets located at the entrance to the gardens. Visitors who wish to take part in the competition are asked to fill in their name and contact details. Two columns of check boxes will appear next to the sculptors' names, so that members of the public may identify each as either a 'Master' or an 'Emergent Sculptor'. Completed forms should then be returned to a collection box, ready for assessment. At the close of the exhibition, in September, the 10 entrants with the most correct answers will each receive a signed etching by one of five masters. There will also be a section on the form for nominating your favourite sculpture in the exhibition. The work which receives the most votes will also be announced in September.

Sculpture in the Garden 2007 – Masters and Emerging Sculptors from Studio Sem, Pietrasanta, will be launched on Saturday 30th June, by the Mayor of Oadby and Wigston, in the presence of the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester, Professor Robert Burgess.

The exhibition will open to the public between 10am and 4pm daily, 30th June to 30th September.

Studio Sem is named after its originator, Sem Ghelardini, who began the studio in 1957, producing sculptures for the churches of the world until the early 60s, when the Second Vatican Council demanded austerity.

As other studios closed as a result, Studio Sem took on a new lease of life and by the mid 1960s was producing the work of some of the greatest sculptors of the age. Studio Sem was remarkable for the diversity of the work going on there at any given time. A common thread linked all of the artists to the material. Each one was pushing the boundaries of the stone, seeking to use the material and its structure in new ways. Studio Sem is unique for the large scale of the work produced there and for establishing a tradition of hosting emerging artists and giving them the opportunity to learn from the artisans and the more established artists.

In the words of Keara McMartin, Director of Studio Sem: “There is an energy that pervades the Studio that is almost palpable; the noise, the grinding away of marble, the rhythmic sound of an arm drawing a faring stone back and forth over the surface of a stone. “It's like magic sometimes; watching the slow evolution of a sculpture from a rough rock slowly emerging and then one day there it is, the sunlight is pouring over it and creating this ethereal light of translucence in the marble, the subtle forms obsessively honed to perfection and it just takes your breath away.”

Vice-Chancellor Professor Robert Burgess said: "The University of Leicester is committed to excellence in all its activities – teaching, research and relations with the community. It is therefore particularly appropriate that this year’s Sculpture in the Garden exhibition should be the outcome of collaboration with Studio Sem, an institution with similar standards in the world of sculpture.

"Both the University and Studio Sem aim at sharing their ideals with others and we are delighted to have the opportunity to display the work of sculptors who have been nurtured at the studio with a regional and national audience. The work on display comes from those currently working in Pietrasanta, and from those who have developed their work there in the past, demonstrating again the seminal influence of both the University and the Studio.

"It is our pleasure to welcome both artists and visitors once again to the Harold Martin Garden. We are confident that the combination of high quality art and skilfully tended gardens will give pleasure to many. I would like to thank the sculptors, the organisers and the many members of the University who have given so generously of their time to make this exhibition another great success."

The entrance to the Botanic Garden is in Glebe Road, Oadby, and admission is free of charge.

For details of the competition please contact Aphrodite Phillipson, tel 07967 664259, email

Note to editors: Photo and Interview opportunity: Sculpture in the Garden 2007: Masters and Emerging Sculptors from Studio Sem, Pietrasanta will be launched on Saturday 30th June at 1pm-3pm.

The exhibition will run from 30th June to 30th September, 10am-4pm daily.

Images will be available from

Further information is available from

Aphrodite Phillipson, tel 07967 664259, email

Professor Bill Forster, tel 01780 460609, email

Harold Martin Botanic Garden The University of Leicester Harold Martin Botanic Garden was founded in 1921 with the assistance of the Leicester Literary & Philosophical Society, and has been on its present site in Oadby since 1947. It comprises the grounds of four houses: Beaumont, Southmeade, The Knoll and Hastings, which were built early in the 20th century and are now used as student residences. The four once-separate gardens have been merged into a single entity. Its 16 acres display an array of interesting features, including an arboretum, a herb garden, woodland and herbaceous borders, rock gardens, a water garden, the National Collections of Skimmia, Aubrieta, hardy Fuchsia and Lawson’s Cypress, and a series of glasshouses displaying temperate and tropical plants, alpines and succulents. There is also an associated arboretum. The gardens, which are open to the public free of charge all year round, are the site of scientific research carried out by students and SEED (Support for Education in Environment and Development), the education programme of the University of Leicester Botanic Garden.


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