Hampstead artist opens up ‘garden gallery’ to reveal spectacular sculptures


sculpture - Credit: Archant

Sanya Ali talks to Maureen Nicholson, who has turned her Belsize garden into a sculpture gallery.

A gallery experience unlike any other can be found amid the shrubbery at 17 Belsize Lane.

Art lovers can stroll through the cosy garden where sculpture is exhibited amid the beautiful foliage in a way that plays with both the space and imagination.

The idea was born back in the 90s when Maureen Michaelson decided to open up her garden as a way of making art more accessible.

“Thousands of people who love art and are interested in art, were too frightened to go into galleries. They were very formidable, austere places,” she says.

At the time she owned a sculptural ceramics gallery. But when it closed during the recession, her new mission became clear.

“I realized there was an opening for somebody to have a gallery and run exhibitions from home where people would just feel more relaxed.”

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Her first garden gallery opened to the public in 2000 featuring a range of styles and materials - from recycled copper wire to the ceramics Michaelson is so fascinated by.

“I also knew artists who were struggling, living hand-to-mouth, who were making beautiful handmade pots for the garden for the British climate.

“I started buying up really nice pots instead of the cheap ones from the garden centre, which were imported from the Far East and were not made to withstand winters.”

Michaelson says she is faithful to the original artists she collaborated with and anything bought from her will last.

“All the artists who I commission to make work are at the top, technically and aesthetically.

“So you have the confidence of knowing if you get something from me, it’s guaranteed. If I say it will last the whole winter, or forever, I know it will and if it won’t you will be given very specific instructions for that piece,” she says.

The space is not, however, a stop-and-shop although Michaelson will have a stall at GROW London on Hampstead Heath with the goal of expanding her audience of art lovers and friends to include gardeners.

“There’s a whole set of people who are very important in the gardening and landscaping world who actually believe you should not have sculptures in the garden, that it’s a terrible juxtaposition.

“I’m hoping to try and be in a fair where most visitors will be landscape gardeners. To show them that you can have a very beautiful and discreet object.”

The 12th Hidden Garden Art show runs weekends 2-6pm until June 28 by appointment only 0207 4350510 maureenmichaelson.com