This past weekend we headed over to Blithewold in Bristol to catch a carnivorous plants exhibit. The possibility of watching a venus flytrap eat a bug in real life was much too exciting for my kids to pass up, and the show did not disappoint (freeze-dried crickets – yum!). After the presentation, we decided to walk around the grounds since it was such a lovely day. I suspect the kids were wondering if the frog pond was still dried up from the long hot summer. As we left the carriage house where the carnivorous plants had done their thing, a staffer mentioned the sculptures scattered throughout the grounds, part of the Vestiges art show going on through October 2nd. Oh yes, I vaguely recalled seeing a flyer posted in a Hope Street storefront about this. I thought it would be nice, for me, to take a quick look at the art while the kids high-tailed it to the pond.
Happiness is … a pleasant surprise.
We crossed the front of the big house, took a quick stroll through the North Garden, and into the Bosquet on our way to the pond. And soon stopped in our tracks, as there, almost directly in front of us, was a headless disintegrating mummy standing in the ivy by the path. That’s what the kids thought at first. “Oh, here’s one of the sculptures,” I said, and we stopped for a closer look. The kids were fascinated. “How did she make this?” they wondered of the artist. “Well, let’s look, it’s made of wood, and fabric, and something else,” I said. “It looks to me like someone was trying to unwrap a mummy, but lost their nerve. What do you think when you look at it?” My youngest summed it up for us all with an awestruck, “It’s so cool!”
And they were off. Continuing on toward the pond we encountered our next sculpture, what turned out to be my favorite in the series, a breathtaking diva in copper and burlap. And then another, and another, and soon I could hardly keep up with my kids. The frog pond was still parched, but they hardly noticed. They were off on an impromptu treasure hunt, shouting out when they found another sculpture, calling for me to catch up, describing what they thought the artist was attempting with each new piece they found.
Art experiences with my kids almost never go this smashingly when I set them up ahead of time. That magical element of surprise, the spontaneous pleasure of encountering something beautiful and unexpected in a natural setting can rarely be set up in advance. But that’s just what artist Paulette H. Carr has done by installing her pieces on the grounds at Blithewold. They are gorgeous, and intriguing, and a little bit spooky (what with Halloween drawing near), and they will be on exhibit for about 11 more days. Get yourself to Blithewold and bring the kids, and see if you can find all eight sculptures without using the companion map (available in the gift shop – you can pick it up on your way out to learn more about each sculpture).