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Easter Sunday is the last Sunday in March and therefore the last chance to see this month's Spirals of Life sculptures in Broomfield Conservatory before they give way to the April exhibits.

ferns1The March exhibits are sculptures of lilies and ferns created by Cathy Taylor and June Dawes.

Cathy writes:

ceramic fern ball"Ferns first caught my eye in the beautiful La Mortella Gardens in Ischia, Italy, where the fronds of giant tree ferns interlaced against the sky. Tree ferns are a very old form of life, familiar from pictures and films of dinosaurs. You can see them today, (though not the dinosaurs!) even in Palmers Green, where there are two standing in front of the Conservatory in the park. These are cultivated ones, of course, and you can see two more inside, in the photographs I took in a park in Vigo, Spain. The large, impressive spirals were about to unfurl into lacy fronds.

ceramic fern spiral"It was not cultivated but wild tree ferns, seen in New Zealand, which inspired June to make her white, ceramic spirals, now set amongst the Conservatory plants.

"With my eye tuned in to the lacy patterns of ferns, I started to notice our native ones, especially in Cornwall where they abound - and where I have a caravan. One of the ceramic 'fern balls' in the conservatory was made by impressing Cornish ferns into the damp clay (by rubbing over them with a spoon, once the spheres were made). Funnily enough, my favourite fern is not large or lacy - it is the small, robust, and somehow jaunty Polypody, which grows out of cracks in old garden walls. You can see several of its fronds on the ball, with their double row of round spores.

"The second fern ball is a kind of fantasy fern, but something like one of the plants in the conservatory. The fronds are not impressed, but modelled and then attached to the ball. The technique used, of spreading the wet clay with a wooden tool, was inspired by the delicate plaster-work in Greenwich Royal Naval College (though I've since read that that was actually carved!).

"If you miss the ferns this week, come back for the final show in June, when you will also see the bracken piece. This simple sculpture, with an impressed bracken frond on each side, shows that our familiar bracken, which we look down on, is as lacy and intricate as the most lofty tree fern fronds etched against the sky."

Broomfield Conservatory is open from 2.30pm to 4.30pm on Sundays and Wednesdays.  Admission is free.  Spirals of Life continues until June.  Next month's sculptures in the Conservatory: Bamboo and Grass.

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