The Chelsea Flower Show 2016 - May 24 to 28

April, 2016

 I am the typecast workaholic. Ask my wife. I’ve recently read that workaholism is a genetic condition used as a prop to “overcome feelings of inadequacy and emotional discomfort” which is a slightly uncomfortable thought but hell, it’s not entirely the fault of my forebears – the truth is I am absolutely gripped by my work. I completely 100% in every way love what I do. And I get irritated when I am dragged away from it.

 

Even by my own distorted standards of a good day’s work, working towards completing my Chelsea Flower Show sculptures stretches me and sets real pressures on my family, my assistants and my body. Being allocated what is arguably the most prominent site at the Chelsea Flower Show – just inside the Embankment entrance and the first thing the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh see upon arrival at the show grounds - every year I feel intense pressure to come up with a show stopping display. This year is no exception, and actually quite a bit more stressful having been allocated an extra 30% more space by the organisers. I’ve  worked on the display and the sculptures for the better part of the last year and am breathing a huge sigh of relief that the sculptures are now on the high seas wending their way towards Felixstowe!

 

I hope you can visit my stand – SR 288 – this coming May 24 to May 28 and I'm not going to spoil the visit by giving you a blow by blow account of the sculptures I have made for it. I can, however, share a couple of images taken on my mobile during the photoshoots last month. The first is the Gazebo – designed to give us a little protection from London’s unpredictable May weather – called the Temple of Ceres. This has been another whopper of a project. 1,500kg of high grade stainless steel have gone into making the structure. The dome is made up of two layers of stainless steel. The first faces in and is highly polished. The outer layer is perforated and gives onto a drainage system all designed to hold half a ton of grasses that will grace the dome. The 6 columns have been clad with driftwood that rise up from a root like base and branch out along the cornice. The floor of the temple is laid with 8,420 pebbles of 6 different colours in a Celtic mosaic. I’ve had fun making this. To add a little spice to the Temple I have popped two half ton driftwood rutting stags ontop. It is definitely worth a visit. Inside the dome a chimp called “The Acrobat” hangs from the ceiling lamp wire. If you get to the show you have to pay him a visit. He craves attention.

 

The second image is “My Kingdom”. A Destrier stands on top of 2 tons of marble, front leg raised awaiting a King’s command.

 

Below I have included one image from the fourteen that I have in my 2015-2016 catalogue as a little more of a tease for this Chelsea Flower Show.

 

 

This year, award winning gardener Jon Bishop is going to landscape the stand. My cousin, the immensely talented Matthew Charlton-Anne, is again taking charge of setting everything up and making sure that it all comes together. I do not know what I would do without his help. Thanks Matt!

 

I hope you can come. I’d love to hear from you if you are coming and will make sure that I reserve a catalogue for you. As usual, Rolando Pascua, my long suffering photographer par excellence, has done my sculptures proud again and I’ve got a number of stunning shots of the sculptures ready to publish in this year’s catalogue.

James Doran Webb