Open House and Garden Preparations - Arrivals / by Kellie Miller

The exhibition is up, and I can finally catch my breath and stop to relax and congratulate ourselves on how much we have achieved. It is so important for me to reflect, especially as I'm always looking to the next project, even before I have finished the last. So, I wanted to share with you a little on the background to the setup and the arrival of the artworks.

Féix Valdelièvre delivering his work

Féix Valdelièvre delivering his work

I'm so proud of my artists, some of whom I approached over a year ago with the idea of the open house. To be honest, although I have always wanted to do an open house, my feeling was that we could do with another 1 to 2 years. However, my instinct was that we needed to push the project forward and, by opening the house and garden, we would just do that. To show you and invite you into the journey was equally important.

When I asked my artists, I never imagine them to all to say yes. Part of me was probably hoping that they would say no as an excuse to delay the open house for another year or so. When it came to the deadline for applying to the AOH, I missed the early bird discount because, at that stage, I wasn't sure if we were ready. Then I remembered the commitment and the belief in me from my artists and I just couldn't let them down. Most were already in full swing of creating and the first deliveries were anticipated in only a few months' time.

Alexia Weill drove from Switzerland to deliver her works

Alexia Weill drove from Switzerland to deliver her works

So I applied in January and then had to go hell-for-leather to get everything ready. With a leaking log cabin to repair and to clear, I just had to get on with it. There is nothing like a deadline to fire you up.

Everything was going to plan and we were meeting our deadlines with the repairs and land clearing. I had planned to produce new works and was so looking forward to spending time in my studio when both my staff members left at very short notice; one for an artist residency the other due to personal circumstances.

Having to find and train new staff at such a critical stage of the project meant my artwork had to take back a step. It was very disappointing but I am very confident that I will get my time in the studio this year. I have produced one or two collections every year since 1994, so I'm determined to produce a collection later this year. But it was definitely a case of ‘the best-laid plans...'. As always, I immerse myself in where I am, as that is exactly where I am meant to be. This allows me to accept and completely enjoy the process and not to resent the uncontrollable changes.

I now have two wonderful members of staff that have been thrown in the deep end, especially with two exhibitions running at the same time, instead of our usual one.

The first works to arrive was Félix Valdièvre's. Félix was very organised and shared the transport with Italian artist, Davide Galbiati. Davide had an exhibition with me at the end of February, so it helped that they travelled from France together.

They both stayed at Bluebell and helped to install his works, which I had sited on a path in the wood. It was wonderful spending time with them both in our home. One day we came home late from the gallery to find that they had made fresh pasta for us.

Rachel Williams trekking down the garden with her paintings

Rachel Williams trekking down the garden with her paintings

Clare Maria Wood’s work safely in the house

Clare Maria Wood’s work safely in the house

The next arrival was Alexia Weill from Switzerland. She came and stayed with her two beautiful children, delivering four wonderful works, the main feature ‘Dream of Nature', weighing in excess of 200Kg. We had a set back when we were not able to lift the sculpture onto its stand. Luckily local sculptor, Will Spankie, came to our rescue with equipment to lift the sculpture into position. Will is exhibiting at Borde Hill Garden’s Sculpture Exhibition 10th May to 30th September.

Radek and Kellie

Radek and Kellie

I then received deliveries from Klaus W. Rieck and Radek Andrle from Berlin and Prague respectively. Nearer to the opening, works arrived from Clare Maria Wood, Rachel Williams, Jonathan Barrett-Danes and local printmaker, Bernard Lodge.

Ivan Clarke and friend having fun assembling the Triangle Experiments

Ivan Clarke and friend having fun assembling the Triangle Experiments

The last installation was from Ivan Clarke, with his Triangle Experiments, three maquettes produced in wood but which will be created in stainless steel on commission. Although these pieces are shown in white they can be in any colour. Or you can choose to highlight one of the triangles in any colour. I would be excited to discuss his works and work through the possibilities with you.

In addition to all of this, I have an exhibition of new works, including ceramics and paintings, at the gallery. I hope you will be able to visit Bluebell over the festival to see amazing sculpture and art and, not least, to sample our great cake!