A wondrous sculptural encounter from Krijn de Koning at Harlow’s Gibberd Garden

Krijn de Koning, ‘Green / Blue, work for Gibberd Garden, Harlow’ (2020) © Rob Harris

Artist Krijn de Koning has created a site-specific installation entitled Green / Blue, work for The Gibberd Garden, Harlow, on display at The Gibberd Garden in Harlow until 25 October 2020.

De Koning’s sculpture is one of the final projects for the region-wide arts commissioning programme, New Geographies, which aims to bring contemporary art to unexpected places in the East of England. The Gibberd Garden — owned and designed by leading post-war architect Sir Frederick Gibberd (1908–1984) and widely acknowledged to be one of the most important 20th century gardens in the UK — was personally selected by de Koning as the site for his installation.

At the core of de Koning’s artistic practice is the way in which we perceive and interact with the spaces we inhabit. Working within different environments — such as Compton Verney, Edinburgh College of Art, and Folkstone Triennial — de Koning creates geometric structures which are in dialogue with their locations, both highlighting and intervening with our experience of these places.

His sculpture, created in partnership with UH Arts, the University of Hertfordshire’s arts and cultural programme, and the Gibberd Garden Trust, has been designed specifically for The Gibberd Garden. It invites the visitor to see and experience the space of the garden through a new architectural structure, and, in turn, the garden forms an integral part of the work.

Says Krijn de Koning: ‘The whole installation creates a spatial game of see-through, obstruction and framing that investigates the interaction between the specific iconography of an object (in this case the trees) and the experience of a place, which is of a much wider character. The trees are as central and important as the work that surrounds them, they belong to each other. The situation is in balance, but together they put a lot of particular focus and attention to the place.’

The artist’s interest in architecture is well placed at The Gibberd Garden. Sir Frederick Gibberd — the Master Planner of Harlow New Town, and designer of iconic buildings such as the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral and London Central Mosque — divided his own garden into separate ‘rooms’. Scattered throughout were eccentric works of art and the paraphernalia left over from Gibberd’s various builds.

Characterising the garden as ‘rooms’ inspired de Koning to design a structure made up of several different compartments. The result, part architecture and part sculpture, encourages the viewer to become an active participant in the work, looking around its walls and stepping through its openings as they navigate the garden space.

Says Mac Quinton, Trustee of the Gibberd Garden Trust: ‘Krijn has picked up Gibberd’s concept of the garden as a series of rooms in his sculpture, but reinterprets it in his own way. There are walls, but they are interlinked. They are placed in, and relate to, a group of existing trees. As you walk around the sculpture, you notice that the walls have some small openings, which give glimpses of the trees in an intriguing way. Other openings entice you to move through them and, in so doing, obtain a completely new perspective. I think it’s a wonderful and respectful homage to the garden’s original design.’

The installation will be at The Gibberd Garden during Summer/Autumn 2020, where possible in line with government guidance and Covid-19 restrictions.

The Gibberd Garden is open on Wednesdays and Sundays from 2 to 5pm (last entry at 4pm) until the 25th October 2020.

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Find out more about the New Geographies project by visiting their website:


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