Come Fly with Me" is a new art exhibition where you are taken on a journey through time and space. It is being held in the amazing Phoenix Sculpture Garden at Mount Glorious. The Sculpture Garden and galleries were closed in March 2020 due to COVID-19 and now the owners, Graham and Margit Radcliffe, want to share the garden again. They have now reopened - by appointment only (and only one group can visit per time as a virus precaution). If you are invited to the art gallery, you are also welcome to look through the spectacular garden as well.
There are three galleries at Phoenix as well as exhibition spaces outdoors. "Come Fly with Me" is a visual spectacle inspired by stars, nebula, planets, and all things cosmic. The uber-talented artist Graham captures interstellar clouds and spiral galaxies in glorious colours like rich jewels, metallics and feminine pinks. Stellar work!
His paintings have texture, probably because he is a sculptor and normally works in three dimensions, his art has depth and movement. As well as his astronomical paintings, he also has some that are firmly grounded on planet Earth. My personal favourite is Lassiter's Lost Dream in earthy colours with copper and glittering pyrite (commonly known as "fools' gold") in his Spirit of Australia series.
Sculpture The Phoenix Sculpture Garden houses the most elaborate stone sculpture collection in Australia. There are more than 150 sculptures in the garden and galleries. Graham mostly works with marble (imported from Italy) but also in other beautiful stone he has sourced from around the globe such as Spanish limestone, Iranian red travertine and pink onyx (e.g. Temple Place). He is often influenced by history such as Egyptology, as well as myths and legends. Many of his works have titles that show his interests such as Lady of Lemuria and Priestess of Atlantis.
Often Graham doesn't have a preconceived design of what his sculpture will look like - he likes to break into the block and be guided by the stone itself. One of my favourites is Secret of Mother Earth where, like the sculptor, the observer discovers the raw stone and what it holds. Another which I love is Kalgoorlie - the bronze disc represents earth and mine shafts are depicted by the holes and the whole work is balanced and striking.
Garden Margit and Graham bought the 47-acre property in 1987 with a vision to make a "haven of peace". There is no doubt that has been achieved, in spades. Surprisingly, there isn't a team of gardeners to maintain the extensive garden, instead Margit and Graham do all the gardening themselves.
From the moment you set eyes on the white marble of Winged Messenger of Love, the first sculpture that greets visitors, the tone has been set for a magical journey. As the path leads you in, you feel the energy of the garden and its sculptures. Different surfaces such as the gravel path, hard stone inorganic sculptures contrasted with the diverse plantings will be a feast for your senses. This peace park is where art meets nature. And like Graham's sculptures, there is balance and harmony.
The Green Cathedral is a living meditation room where you may like to sit in contemplation or listen to birdsong. It is a chance to refresh your spiritual side and gaze inwards. You will discover little messages or "ponderings" attached to trees to inspire and delight you. Margit is a woman of many talents, including being a marriage celebrant and this is such a special place to tie the proverbial knot as it is wholesome and holistic, supportive of the human system, and will strengthen people's spirits. Spring is a beautiful time to see the native orchids or clivias. But honestly, every season has something special to offer in the year-round rain forest garden.
Graham Radcliffe Although Graham is best known as a sculptor, he began his art career as a painter, so this exhibition is a return to his roots. He lived in Italy for six years, began sculpting full time at the age of 52 and is self-taught, which I find remarkable. He began to sculpt using limestone and moved onto marble and other stone, bronzes and other metals. Unlike a worker of clay, who builds it up the sculpture, Graham carves into the block of stone to reduce it down to its final beautiful shape.
Graham turned 85 in 2019 and wanted to do four major pieces using his "best stone". It is his mission to leave a legacy to mankind, and what a legacy it is. He has been prolific throughout his career and has a large body of works. He has said that "Ascension" is his last major work. It is a work in progress from a one tonne stone of Argentinian blue marble. It is a moving piece which symbolises origins and going home. I can't see Graham retiring any time soon as he is still painting, sculpting and gardening while listening to classical music as he works. May his creations go on.