University of Leicester eBulletin

Sculpture in the Garden

July 2002
No 156


Britain has no shortage of botanic gardens, many of them open to the public, but it is surprisingly rare for them to be used for the display of art or sculpture, whether due to the changeability of our weather, or the threat of vandalism.

Breaking the mould, the University of Leicester - whose magnificent 16-acre landscaped gardens are open to the public, free of charge, all year round - has extended this accessibility to a summer exhibition of more than 30 sculptures by international and regional artists in the Harold Martin Botanic Garden.

Dr Helaine Blumenfeld, an internationally acclaimed sculptor who received an honorary degree from the University in July, and who was instrumental in setting up the exhibition entitled “Sculpture in the Garden” is strongly committed to making sculpture more open to the public.

She fears that people are in danger of losing accessibility to contemporary art, much of which is becoming increasingly bizarre, and would like to see more exhibitions like “Sculpture in the Garden” attracting adults and children alike.

Dr Blumenfeld was delighted at how quickly such a prestigious exhibition was set up, with the minimum of trouble and maximum co-operation from University staff.

Sites for the individual sculptures were chosen with care – one work by the Icelandic sculptor Gudrun Nielsen, FRBS, was specifically designed for the herb garden – in the knowledge that the setting itself becomes part of an exhibition of this type.

Helaine Blumenfeld’s work has been exhibited widely in the UK, Italy and the USA and she has provided major public sculptures in the USA and France. In 1990 she donated a sculpture “Souls” to the University and contributed to the recent “Body in Mind” exhibition at the University’s Richard Attenborough Centre.

Speaking of her long relationship with the University of Leicester, she said: “My association with the University began in 1989, creating a sculpture to be placed on the lawn in front of the Fielding Johnson Building. That led to many visits to the University and eventually, in September 1990, to the installation of the two-part bronze sculpture, “Souls”.

“In the years since then I have seen the University become increasingly committed to the arts. I was thrilled with the establishment of the Richard Attenborough Centre for Disability and the Arts and for the many fine exhibits and concerts that have taken place there since then.

“I am now, at the request of the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Robert Burgess, actively involved in organising this sculpture exhibition in the Harold Martin Botanic Garden. This will be the first step towards developing a ‘Sculpture Trail’ on the University campus. I feel honoured and privileged to be part of what I see as a recognition of the profoundly important role art plays in our day-to-day lives.”

Professor Robert Burgess, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester said: “We are delighted to present such a prestigious exhibition of sculpture – some of it on a large scale – in the beautiful setting of the University’s Botanic Garden. It is another indication of the University’s commitment to the arts and an example of how we are able to enrich the life of city and the region.”

“Sculpture in the Garden”, which is planned as the first of a series of sculpture exhibitions the University hopes to hold in future years, includes more than 30 sculptures including by artists such as Paul Lewthwaite, who has exhibited in New York, Dallas, Vienna and Madrid, Johannes von Stumm, whose work has been on show in the UK, Belgium, Holland, Japan and Germany, and Deirdre Hubbard, who studied at Harvard University, graduating Summa Cum Laude in 1957 and winning the Sohier Prize.

Opening hours are 10 am-4 pm daily, and the exhibition is open to the public and free except during special events. It will include a sculpture trail for school parties and children with families. Entrance is through the Knoll Gate, on Glebe Road, Oadby, Leicestershire.

For further information please contact the University of Leicester Press and Public Relations Office, telephone 0116 252 2415, facsimile 0116 252 2485, email or visit

Sculpture in the Garden – List of artists and sculptures:


Title of piece

Paula Armstrong (3)

Ceramic Heads

Martyn Barratt (2)

Blue Planet


Helaine Blumenfeld (2)


Shadow figures: Dialogue

Derek Carruthers

Heavenly Bodies

John Carter (3)


Heron Form

Sea Form

Bob Dawson


Bill Forster (5)






Miles Halpin (3)

Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge



Derek Howarth


Deirdre Hubbard

Amazon 1

Paul Lethwaite


Christopher Marvell

Man and Cat

Gudrun Nielsen

Echo (2 parts)

Tessa Pullan

Horse and Rider

  Frances Segelman (3)

  Angel 1

Angel 2

Angel 3

Andrew Smith


Rosalind Stoddart


Mr Richard Thornton

River Rhythm

Johanne von Stumm (2)



NOTES TO EDITORS:   Photographs of the exhibition are welcomed at any time during opening hours, by arrangement with Dr Richard Gornall, Director of the Harold Martin Botanic Garden, telephone 0116 252 3394/0116 271 2933, facsimile 0116 252 3330, email

Further information on “Sculpture in the Garden” is available from Professor Bill Forster, telephone 01780 460609, email, or from Dr Richard Gornall, Director of the Harold Martin Botanic Garden, contact details as above.

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