Sculpture brings light to the dark days of winter

A magnificent new sculpture is bringing light to Sussex’s most famous garden during the dark days of winter.

On January 11, internationally regarded Brighton based artist Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva, unveiled Rapture at the National Trust’s Nymans.

Inspired by the landscape of this world-renowned garden and its romantic ruins, Elpida has worked closely with the property’s countryside team to source a six metre sweet chestnut tree from Nymans’ woodlands, felled during the great storm of 1987.

Over 4 months, Elpida worked in the Nymans woodland to strip back bark from her chosen tree and sculpt it into an elegant column, before gilding it fully with 23.5ct gold leaf.

Heavy lifting machinery was then used to invert the tree and stand it high on the hillside at Nymans, where the low winter sunlight is reflected in the glittering gilding, giving additional impact to the dramatic views across the Weald.

Nymans Lead Ranger Chloe Bradbrooke: “I work with trees every day in their many varied forms and they are beautiful in their own right, but it’s exciting to see one so transformed”.

Elpida, who works across a varied media including sculpture, video and sound, does not use traditional sculptural materials, but is inspired by items with no inherent value, such as foodstuffs and organic materials, turning everyday objects into things of beauty. In Rapture she explores the fragility of nature, the effect of time passing and how the past and present can combine to regenerate and evolve:

“I’m grateful for the opportunity Nymans have provided to realise this work which acts as a striking beacon for nature,” said Elpida.

Elpida has exhibited extensively, creating numerous commissions nationally and internationally, in gallery spaces, museums and within the public realm.

She recently presented Haruspex commissioned by the Vatican for the Venice Biennale 2015. Past sites and commissions include Fabrica Gallery, Brighton, Pied à Terre London, Gloucester Cathedral Gloucester, Towner Gallery Eastbourne, Southgate Bath, L’H du Siège France, Kilmainham Gaol Museum Ireland, 51st, 55th and 56th Venice Biennale and Public Room Skopje.

Rapture by Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva: January 11 to February 28 (10 am- 4pm), normal admission charge only.

For further information visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/nymans or call 01444 405250.

Report and picture contributed by the National Trust.