Visiting the Gardens
In this very unique setting overlooking the Bray/Greystones cliff path, is a steeply terraced garden of approximately four acres. Family-owned for over fifty years, the gardens have filled out with mature Cordyline trees, New Zealand flax’s, Fuchsias, giant Echiums and many more plants that can withstand a seaside environment.
There is more than a sense of the surreal about the garden but also one of tranquillity. It is a wild garden; strange, quirky and fascinating. Not for the tidy person who likes things ship-shape and in ordered order.
Even more unique are the garden installations that have evolved over the past twenty-three years. Visitors have several ways of navigating this Garden as Gallery. One is simply to wander through it stopping where you will, to spend time and absorb what you see, smell, hear. Another is with a map and piece of paper to write sensory impressions and experiences onto and then to dialogue with the owner and artist Joan Davis over a cup of tea. A third is to be taken round personally by Joan and guided into interactions and immediate feedback with the installations followed by more discussion and tea.
All Garden as Gallery tours need to be booked in advance and a minimum of an hour and a half should be allowed for option one. Donations are gratefully received for this option, which once a year goes towards the Hospice Foundation and the rest of the time towards the upkeep of the gardens. Personalized Garden as Gallery tours requires a minimum of four hours; these tours are interactive and immersive.
Tours are suitable for families with children over six years of age, small special interest groups of up to four people or on a one to one basis for deeper enquiry.
There is a charge for personalised guided tours depending on the needs of the group or person and length of time taken.
STATEMENT OF INTENT
I wish to share this incredible place more consciously with people in a way that they too can receive nourishment and healing.
BACKGROUND TO THE WORK
Each year the storms change the installations and then in the spring, I go out and work with those changes. Many of the installations are really works in progress over the past twenty-three years.
Coming from a dance background and getting older, as I step out of my dancing self, the garden becomes more inhabited by dancing figures and forms made of my own sculpting mixture. I make this mixture with wood ash, rotted grass cuttings and peat briquette ash as well as anything biodegradable from the garden; it is a big recycling as well.
There are several themes that run through the GAG; one is the grounded body of form (Bone Bike and Bone on Rock) and the opposite of that, formlessness or spirit (Spirit Free).
Another related theme arises from my interest in Jewish Mysticism and the Hebrew alphabet, letters that are forms through which the light shines. How do form and formlessness meet and embrace each other is an ongoing enquiry for me. Linked to this is my life long relationship with the faery world and the magic, madness and mischief therein. There is one corner of the garden that particularly seems to hold this energy. It is always in some chaos and there is a great sense of ongoing movement mischief there.
Possible Questions to consider when walking through the Garden As Gallery.
Did you find the map useful in navigating the Garden as Gallery? In what ways? What else might you have needed on it?
Did you have any physical responses to what you saw? For example; I wanted to touch……….I wanted to get right up close to………I needed a lot of space between me and……….I laughed out loud at………………..
Did what you saw trigger any emotional responses? For example; I felt sad/angry/longing/awe when I saw………………..I felt joy/confusion/delight when I stood beside ……………..I felt disgusted or afraid of……………
Did you have any memories or associations, strong opinions or criticisms about anything you experienced on your tour?
Some things people have said about their experience of Garden as Gallery:
‘An utterly enchanting afternoon. It was a step out of time and I was transported to another world’
‘I felt I was in the Garden of Eden and this was truly where all creation began. I stopped thinking and wondered what was natural and what was manmade. I could hardly tell the difference and I loved that mystery’
‘I encountered playfulness, joy and humour alongside sadness and many childhood associations. I didn’t feel so comfortable in front of the piece called Final Resting Place. I didn’t want to think about death and dying’
‘This was my second visit. I feel well in this garden. I am full of feelings for which I have no words’
Garden As Gallery can also be seen on Visit Wicklow -