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  • Writer's pictureSofias Country Gardens

Dylan Lewis sculpture garden

I think Dylan Lewis sculpture garden in South Africa is one of my favourite gardens in the whole world. This is saying a lot, considering I have visited an extraordinary number of gardens all over! Those who follow my blog for a while know that whenever I travel, all roads lead to a garden somewhere along the way. It really is a must see if you happen to be near Cape Town as it is less than an hours drive from there.

The success of this garden lies not just in Dylan Lewis amazing larger than life sculptures, but also in how he marries them with the landscape and landscapes the gardens around the sculptures. Even without the sculptures, these gardens would be beautiful. Lying as it does on a hillside, the views of the surrounding mountains and valley is constantly incorporated in the structure of the gardens. There are an abundance of vistas used to frame individual sculptures, and the plants that are surrounding them have been well chosen and planted in sweeping swathes like the dutch naturalistic planters do. Intermingled with stones, boulders and smaller rocks big swaths of grasses and perennials sit comfortably with wild native plants, making it all seem effortless although as any gardener knows it clearly isn't.

The gardens contain over 60 of the artists sculptures form different periods in his career. Many follow a fragmented form and the exhibition moves from the animals of the African wilderness to half-animal-half-human form, to his present day work that is fully formed humans. The fragmentation of many sculptures has been a strong theme over the years. As the artist himself says:

"Devoid of their most distinctive animal attributes, namely the head, tail and paws, the fragments are invested with a nascent human physical quality that is particularly visible in those that are vertically positioned. The result is a disturbingly ambiguous anatomical manifestation that begins to blur the boundaries of human and animal as separate and exclusive entities."

If there is one thing I love even more than a garden combined with sculptures, it is when it is infused with the third dimension which is words. Here and there in the gardens are cast iron plaques with poems by Ian McCallum that utterly delighted me, as I hadn't stumbled across his writings before. I think Ian McCallum must be a very private person, as there is very little information to be found about him except that he is a medical doctor, Jungian psychologist and wilderness guide as well as the author of the beautifully written book Ecological Intelligence: rediscovering ourselves in nature and some fantastic poems.

The Rising by Ian McCallum

One day

your soul will call to you

"Rise up!" it will say...

Unmask your unloved life...

feast on your animal heart.

Unfasten your fist

let loose the medicine

in your own hand.

Show me the lines...

I will show you the spoor

of the ancestors.

Show me the creases...

I will show you

the way to water.

Show me the folds...

I will show you the furrows

for your healing.

"Look!" it will say...

the line of life has four paths

one with a mirror,

one with a mask,

one with a fist,

one with a heart.

One day

your soul will call to you

with a holy rage.

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