Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Marshall Murray on Grand Designs

Awesome is loud but awe is quiet.
                                             - Kevin McCloud

Like anyone, I suppose, there are days (usually on weekends or very late at night) when I sit at my desk and wonder if the juice is worth the squeeze? 

Other days I really love my job. 

Grand Designs is one of my absolute favourite shows.  Like many others I find it fascinating to watch the human drama of couples struggling against the elements, the budget,  rising stress levels and the thousands of design decisions with no 'right answer' is great TV.  It also combines the joy of peeking over your neighbour's fence, snooping around someone else's house and critiquing other people's aesthetic choices.
The garden viewed from the living room

That I find these past times so fascinating perhaps explains why I don't get invited to many dinner parties?  Hmmmm. 

We were approached by the very talented garden designer Ana Mari Bull ( to provide artwork for her design (below) that had been chosen by a charming couple who were in the latter stages of building their dream home.

A view from the orchard toward the hous
The plot is an atypical shape, over 100m long but only around 8m wide.  Ana's design turned this problem into an opportunity by building a space made up of several garden rooms, delineated with sharp geometric forms in soft and hard landscaping.  

From a partitioning wall with a rectangular aperture, to clipped box hedging and squared-off seating, the lines of the garden mirror the very contemporary house.  

Peter Brooke-Ball
Molten pewter  'bleeding'
The front end of the plot was planted to resemble an orchard/ woodland, the main terrace closest to the house a more ordered and hard landscaped area with chimney and formal seating.  This worked very well for sculpture as it gave areas of the garden the feel of a gallery, with the more relaxed feel of a sculpture garden thrown in for good measure.

The tones of the house are restricted to two two dominant colours; the cool grey of the architectural frames and a pale cream render.  I used these to inform the curation process, selecting a beautiful marble and pewter piece by Peter Brooke-Ball, a simple slate and steel circle by Tom Stogdon and a series of playful wire sculptures by Rachel Ducker.  Rachel's sense of movement and lightness, wind-blown hair and semi-opacity, worked well with the open plan and airy property.

Martin Cook
In the orchard section I went for a simple oak bench and slate sun dial, gorgeously engraved by Martin Cook in his nearby Oxfordshire studio.  His work graces the British Library, 'Little Sparta'   (Ian Hamilton-Finlay's masterpiece) and he recently sold work to no less than our beloved Queen.

The sun dial
The clients have built a home that worships the plot on which it sits.  The open expanse of the the Thames is breathtaking and they therefore chose to keep the deck simple and unobstructed; a glass wall of the balcony and floor-to-ceiling windows brings the water into the kitchen. 

Below the balcony sits a hidden jetty with an old wooden rowing boat, itself a beautiful piece of sculpture when set against the very modern house.  To be able to escape onto the water at a moment's notice must be a wonderfully liberating way to live

In the subterranean office space there is a curved window looking out at the waterline.  A really beautiful space. 

The clients could not have been more pleasant and accommodating, both art lovers and clearly in love with the home that they had created.  Finding art for passionate people makes the late nights and weekends all worthwhile.  Showing our art on national television, well, that's just a bonus!  
If you would like to learn more about any of the artists shown here then we are always happy to offer advice and support.

You can find more photos of these artists and artworks on our Facebook page ('like' us, share us, tweet us as per your social media and receive lots of good karma):

Marshall Murray's Facebook page

The terrace with stunning views of the Thames