Trader turned gardener Brent Purtell swapped finance for flowers after 15 years and will exhibit for the first time this weekend in the ‘New Designers’ category, after graduating from Art School at the Inchbald School of Design, himself last summer.
He was keen to offer student opportunities and, having viewed their work, selected and commissioned students Jamie Walton, Rose Kate McDonald and Charlie Lindsay to create the dominating piece of his gallery.
Charlie and Rose, who are both Level 6 students are able to use the piece as part of their Professional Development assessment, which forms 20% of one of their modules.
‘The Garden Urban Gallery’ is a small public garden revitalising an inner city, urban space. The students have used common recycling materials and celebrated their reuse in new ways to create this exciting exhibition space for artists to display their own creativity.
The Cardiff Met team’s colourful acrylic paint mural covers three ‘walls’ of the garden and has been a work in progress at CSAD over the last few months.
London-based amateur oil and watercolour artist Brett aims to create a destination in every space and explains, “My concept was to create an urban gallery, so a small public space rather than a private garden and a space where local artists can display their artwork.
“I have been inspired by the abstract art of Agnes Martin and Ben Nicholson, whilst drawing influence from Japanese karesansui gardens, the space comprises a central pool, lit by dappled light filtering through the canopies of Eucalyptus and invites harmony and balance.
“By doing so, the user is asked to take the time to more fully discern the gallery and take in the art works of these talented students.”
Continuing with the urban, almost industrial feel, crushed recycled concrete has been used on the floor and vertical planes. Water trickling down the face of this feature provides elements of sound and movement as it runs into a pond which carries on the re-use of materials, this time common steel tread plate, which has been reimagined as a cost effective, recycled alternative to Corten steel. This reimagining carries on with its use as edging and seating, binding together the garden through its various elements and a continuity of visual language.
Jamie said: “As this was a collaborative piece between the three of us, and we have very different practices, we were tasked with trying to amalgamate our styles and still create a cohesive piece.
“With this in mind I drafted up a concept digitally that pulled in all of our styles and that drew upon ideas and influences surrounding street art and graffiti culture as well as traditional fine art practices and mediums and how these could be represented within a contemporary garden space.
“We were inspired by the unique fusion of the gardens and parks present in close proximity to urban spaces here in Cardiff and we also chose our colour palette to complement and emphasise the specific plants and trees Brent was using in the space as well as using reclaimed corrugated tin sheeting from a farm as the canvas that would stand as the perimeter walls of the garden.”
Surrounding the garden, Carex buchananii accentuates the vertical plane, with the wispy, cinnamon hues, stark below the colour of the art and corrugated sheeting. Set amongst these, the deep colour tones of Euphorbia amygdaloids ‘Purpurea’ add to the pared back, contemporary scene, with splashes of lime green vivid against the backdrop.
Raised, rectangular and square gabion planters and benches add to the geometric, contemporary quality of the garden, which is sponsored by Garden Gardnes, enabling the Eucalyptus to reach above and create a sky plane, enveloping the space while not hindering a viewer’s line of vision of the art.
Combining creative disciplines, providing opportunities for creatives to showcase their work and expanding the limits to ‘what’ a garden is, is something Brent is exploring, and something he hopes visitors to this weekend’s show will too.