Art and Nature in harmony: the Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden

The Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden is a very special, magical place where art and nature exist in perfect harmony. Hidden away in the leafy Surrey countryside, the garden was the brainchild of Dutch journalist-turned-art-curator Hannah Peschar and her New Zealander husband, the landscape artist Anthony Paul. They acquired the property in 1977, and spent over half of their adult lives turning it into a place to enjoy – and maybe even to purchase – some wonderful sculpture.

Fragment, by Jill Sutton

At the heart of the site stands a 15th century cottage, set in 10 acres (4 hectares) of gardens. These were first landscaped in the 1920s, but had been left unmanaged for around 30 years and were therefore vastly overgrown when the couple moved in. Anthony spent the next five years restoring order to the chaos they had purchased. Hannah, meanwhile, was contemplating how the reclaimed and newly landscaped garden could be put to good use. Her “big idea” was a public sculpture garden, a courageous vision at a time when such ventures were all but unknown in the UK.

The 15th century, Grade II listed cottage where Hannah and Anthony lived from 1977

The Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden opened to the public in 1986. Every year around 200 pieces are on display, the work of more than 40 artists from the UK and Europe. The sculptures come in various shapes, sizes and styles, and make use of a range of materials including bronze, stone, wood, wire, glass and ceramics. Most are available to purchase, but only by those with gardens and bank balances that are big enough!

What makes this place particularly appealing is the placement of the pieces. Unlike some similar enterprises, there is no sense here that the curators have crammed in more sculptures than the garden can tastefully absorb. The positioning of each amongst the verdant foliage has clearly been planned with great care, and all are given sufficient space to sit comfortably within their surroundings. Every sculpture has the opportunity to shine, and no doubt this helps with the sales figures, which – let’s face it – is the name of the game.

I would be lying if I claimed to like everything I saw when we visited last October, but overall the collection was a pleasure to view. And to do so in the tranquil surroundings of a beautifully landscaped garden was an absolute delight. Nature and art are in perfect harmony here, each enhanced by its juxtaposition to the other.

Standing Mare, by Stuart Anderson

Sadly, Hannah Peschar passed away in 2021, but Anthony Paul continues to live in the Grade II Listed cottage he and his wife bought nearly half a century ago. The garden that encloses it is a fitting tribute to their enormous vision and creativity, and is well worth a visit if you’re ever in the area. You’re certain to see something you really like, but do check the prices carefully before reaching for your credit card!

Clockwise from top left: Scylla, by Giles Rayner; Pinnate Leaf, by Peter Clarke; Keeper of the Light, by Jeremy Moulsdale; Interred in Aluminium by Joseph Hillier; Flight of Fancy, by Jilly Sutton, 2022; If, by Guy Stevens; Big Red Flower by Neil Wilkin.

Advertisement

22 comments

  1. Laurie Graves · January 18

    How I would love to visit that sculpture garden. I particularly like the mare and the red flower.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thistles and Kiwis · January 18

    Fascinating place and some interesting pieces.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Platypus Man · January 18

      A tranquil and thought-provoking retreat in which to escape the pressures of the 21st century for an hour or two!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ms. Liz · January 18

    Beautifully contemplative, and what a lovely surprise to find a NZ connection!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Platypus Man · January 18

      Yes, Anthony Paul’s links to NZ came as a total surprise. I wonder whether, and if so to what degree, his NZ heritage influenced his work as a landscape gardener?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Paddy Tobin · January 18

    An excellent visit! There is an annual exhibition of sculpture in the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin which we always visit. As with you, I don’t fall in love with or even admire quite a few of the pieces but every now and again there is one which jumps into my heart and I wish my bank balance would allow me to take it home. It’s all worthwhile for such moments, meetings with beauty that moves us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Platypus Man · January 18

      From what I know of your garden from the many excellent photos on your blog, it would be the perfect spot for half a dozen majestic, thought-provoking sculptural pieces. So, if you’ve got a few hundred thousand Euros going spare…!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Paddy Tobin · January 18

        LOL Wait for it…we were in a garden centre recently and Mary fell in love with a little concrete pig and it is now outside our back door. Sculpture in our garden!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Platypus Man · January 18

        Oink oink!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Ann Mackay · January 18

    That looks like a great place to visit…though I probably wouldn’t be doing any shopping. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. tanjabrittonwriter · January 18

    Thanks for the guided tour of this special site. Sadly, neither our garden nor our bank account is big enough to purchase any of the sculptures. I would be very tempted to ride the beautiful mare into the sunset.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. June’s Travels · January 19

    Beautiful house, garden and sculptures! I especially like the seventh picture from last, the white-black house inside the garden, gorgeous!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Neha Chauhan · January 19

    Good information and great pictures , loved the Standing Mare.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. alison41 · January 19

    Thanks for sharing these fabulous sculptures and the gardens.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Platypus Man · January 19

      I’m pleased to know they “spoke” to you too. The best amongst them are wonderful.

      Like

  10. shazza · January 20

    Looks a beautiful and serene place to visit. X

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s