© 2018 Anna Whitehouse Ceramics

Rhodi Torana

April 2019

Himalayan Gardens and Sculpture Park, Grewelthorpe

In collaboration with The Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh and Harrogate College

 

"Torana: Indian gateway, usually of stone, marking the entrance to a Buddhist shrine or stupa or to a Hindu temple...

......toranas are often covered from top to bottom with exquisite sculpture" 

Encyclopedia Britannica

In 2019 a new path was installed to allow visitors access to the gardens’ rarest species of rhododendron, of which it is believed to have the largest collection in the North of England.

 

I decided to present the newly built rhododendron path and its rare species as a ‘Himalayan temple’, arranging two sculptures to create a gateway or torana, celebrating the beauty and complexity of the precious specimens within.

 

On contacting The Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh (the largest research institution of rhododendrons since the 19th century) I was introduced to Brooke Micke, a research student who had just finished her Masters thesis on rhododendron pollen. She had produced hundreds of images using a scanning electron microscope and was kind enough to share them with me, thus enabling me to study the form and texture of the grains in incredible detail.

 

The red and gold colour palette - typical of Himalayan temples - was replicated through the use of an iron-rich clay dug from the gardens and applied as a slip, with brass metalwork used to interpret the snaking threads visible in the SEM images.

 

Using clay from site gives a unique and powerful sense of place, celebrating the landscape and collections that are at the heart of The Himalayan Gardens.