Stunning sundials, water features and extraordinary sculpture for gardens and interiors
At this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show visitors will be able to travel back through time.
Not literally, of course, but by wandering through The David Harber and Savills Garden, created by garden designer Nic Howard and featuring sculptures by David, which looks at mankind’s evolving relationship with nature. From the Bronze Age to the present day, visitors will travel through a physical manifestation of evolution, with clearly defined stages of planting and a series of increasingly intricate, bespoke patterned bronze screens that reflect varying time periods, culminating in the main sculptural piece: ‘Aeon’. Cast in bronze, with a starburst at its centre that is formed of 256 gold- leafed aluminium spikes, it represents the Big Bang, ‘the nano-second of creation exploding from a mass of amorphous bronze symbolising life’.
David has long had a fascination with nature, and celestial movements in particular. Nearly 30 years ago, an antiques dealer friend showed him an armillary sphere sundial and he decided that he wanted to make one. So he did, producing his first oxidised steel sundial that same day. He soon gained a reputation for sundials (one of his first commissions was from actor Jeremy Irons) and sculptures that marked time, but after several years he felt that this restricted his creativity, so decided to branch out into water features and other forms of sculpture too.
Arguably scientific instruments are in his blood. He discovered that he is the direct descendant of John Blagrave, the Elizabethan mathematician and scientific instrument maker who has long been acknowledged as one of the finest ever exponents of mathematical instrument design. Following this discovery, in 2010, David created a replica of John’s design, The Mathematician Jewel, in antique bronze which was unveiled in a private room of the Science Museum.
Today, his artworks grace some of the most prestigious addresses across the world, from public spaces and luxury developments, to hotels and private gardens. While he is best-known for his outdoor sculptures, his team’s knack for sensitively tailoring each project to reflect the identity of that space has also made his work popular with interior designers. His range of designs can be customised by engraving or etching, but he also relishes the chance to create bespoke, site-specific pieces for clients. Each artwork is handcrafted in his Oxfordshire workshop.
One of his latest designs is Quad, commissioned as a pair as part of the exhibition Emerging Artists, held earlier this year at 45 Park Lane, and curated by Ackerman Studios and YAP Art. A limited- edition series, it consists of three quadrilateral shapes standing 2.5m high and 80cm wide, which are jaunty, angular and seemingly unstable while having a sense of poise. The sculpture, which implies a state of implausible balance, is made from mirror-polished stainless steel to reflect itself and its surroundings, and the subtle blue hues of the outer surface morph skyward. The translucent colouring has been created with unique pigments to realise a magical depth. There are two variations, each with a distinct personality that are related to each other while being resolutely individual (the idea is that they can be bought individually or a pair). Another space-defining sculpture that will beguile all who have the pleasure of viewing it.
David Harber, Blewburton Barns, Hagbourne Road, Aston Upthorpe, Oxfordshire OX11 9EE. +44 (0)1235 859300