Carolina Melis has been commissioned to create an animated film inspired by both the historic gardens of National Trust property, Ham House and Garden, and the estates 17th Century owner, Elizabeth Dysart, who held the vision for the garden.
Last November Carolina held a number of workshops at Ham House and Garden with the local Multi-cultural Women’s Group. I was able to assist with a couple of these workshops which became two lovely outings to Richmond and what seemed to be a million miles away from the rush of the city. The members of the Women’s Multicultural Group were interested and open minded allowing Ham House and Garden to become a background setting for inspiration, exploration and discussion.
Carolina initiated tasks which began inside and spread into the garden, collecting props and asking the women to create new themed potted gardens and realise composition and landscaping within self contained environments.
Members of the Multi-cultural Women’s Group brought in precious objects introducing the background history and sentimental value of these objects which was discussed in relation to the cultural values and historic presence of Elizabeth Dysart’s own interests and visions.
In later workshops Carolina taught principal basics of animation to children of the families allowing them to experiment with controlled movement on screen in response to the previous exploration of the garden.
Carolina is also working with cultural historian Michael Ann Mullen to unlock the historical and social context of the gardens. She is currently producing a new piece of work which will be presented in exhibition at Ham House and Garden, Richmond in April 2012.
The film will also premiere online in April 2012. It will be presented on the Ham House website and on animateprojects.org, alongside an interview with Carolina Melis and an essay by Michael Ann Mullen.
The exhibition Garden of Reason will run from April 28 until mid September 2012 and will feature 8 artists’ commissions all inspired by the place, its survival and history. A supporting programme of live art and interaction will include curatorial tours, performance and four additional arts and heritage commissions with Ham Youth Centre, Ham United Group and the International Youth Arts Festival to research little known histories to create information for new visitors.
Garden of Reason has been awarded grants from Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery Fund.
All images copyright Tim Mitchell, 2011