Guldagergaard is located in the middle of a public ceramic sculpture park. Guldagergaard has a history as an important fruit farm for this area in Denmark. The former owner also had a huge interest in rare plants and trees, and founded the park in the earlier 1910’s. The garden itself looks like it has done for decades but now with the addition of several ceramic sculptures.
Guldagergaard continually seeks funding for expanding the sculpture park with new ceramic work.
In the late summer of 2016, a team of ceramic artists followed Alice and the white rabbit down the rabbit hole to visit Wonderland. It was an enchanted and delightful symposium, and at the end of it, Guldagergaard had acquired a new landmark to greet its guests.
Now, you are welcomed by two little white rabbits, when you enter Guldagergaard and the Sculpture Park – an aspect, which seems befitting, as the Sculpture Park is a world full of extraordinary personalities, mystical undercurrents and marvellous anarchy. The work was created by the internationally renowned Swedish ceramic artist Lillemor Pettersson, who works in both bricks, terracotta, bronze, and porcelain.
On one of her adventures, Alice encounters the Garden of Live Flowers, who believe that she is a flower too – although, as Alice is wearing a dress, they believe her petals are fading and falling down around her ankles; a very sad event indeed. In the Flower Bed for Alice, Paul Scott and Lillemor Pettersson have created a place, where Alice can lie down with the rest of the flowers and regain her strength. You can rest too and wonder about the narrowness of our own perspectives as humans, and the ways in which they limit how we see the world.
The flowerbed is an in-glaze decal collage on porcelain tiles by the Cumbrian artist Paul Scott, which is placed on a brick structure by the Swedish artist Lillemor Pettersson.
In front of the main house at Guldagergaard, you can experience the beautiful fire sculpture that was created by one of the co-founders of Guldagergaard, Nina Hole.
Through the years, Nina has been an immensely important figure at Guldagergaard, and her vision of ceramics as being an act of communal creation and open dialogue is clearly viewed in this sculpture, which was created from April 19th – May 9th in 2015 by a team of artists. It is a vision that still survives at Guldagergaard today. Nina Hole sadly passed away in the spring of 2016, but her sculptures still speak for her, or as she puts it: “Clay has a language of its own”.
Every child in Denmark knows the story about the boy, inquisitive Jørgen, who questions everything – sometimes even just to tease his parents. This sculpture is inspired by the story of the curios boy, and imprinted on it you can read the questions asked by several school children, who participated in the project.
Curiosity has also always been at the bottom of both Bjørn Nørgaard and Malene Hartmann Rasmussen’s creativity. Bjørn Nørgaard has influenced the Danish art scene significantly through his happenings and his sculptures, and Malene Hartmann Rasmussen is a former student at Guldagergaard and has visited the center as a guest artist many times.
Originally, Bruce McWhinney came to Guldagergaard as a participant in “The 2nd European Ceramic Wood Firing Conference” in 2014. He ended up returning to Guldagergaard to create a sculpture for the Sculpture Park. During his first stay, he made a lot of friendships within the community of Skælskør, and he wanted to give something back.
He did that with the sculpture King and Queen, which is inspired by the love story between the Danish Crown Prince Frederik and the Australian Mary Elizabeth Donaldsen – and which mirrors McWhinney’s own warm connection to Denmark.
In 2013 Guldagergaard revealed a large porcelain tree by Dr. Paul Scott.
Spode works was a ceramic production factory and company in Stoke-on-Trent in the UK, which unexpectedly had to close down in 2009 – the employees even had to leave unfinished plates and other products behind. The beautiful blue and white tree in the Sculpture Park is Paul Scott’s tribute to the old factory, and through the sculpture he hopes to remember that, which has been lost. The beautiful tiles are handmade and hand-rolled in Jingdezhen in China, and they have been transported to Guldagergaard afterwards, where they have been decorated with screen-printed decals designed by Paul Scott (like a children’s tattoo transfer).
This work was result of 3 years of dialogue and planning between Dr. Paul Scott and Guldagergaard director Mette Blum Marcher. The tree is 5 meters tall and this silk screen project was the first one to succeed in the new print facilities in the new Guldagergaard studios. Not less than 7 assistants helped succeeding this project.
Behind the kiln yard, you will find the gate between East and West, which is made by the Chinese artist Wenzhi Zhang in 2010. Zhang has always attempted to make her art available to a multicultural audience, and she plays with and mixes the styles of different ethnicities and cultures. In that way, her work has aspects of both the personal and the social, the individual and the communal experience.
The gateway becomes both a bridge and a threshold, establishing a connection as well as preserving the unique. The yellow bricks are made by Petersen Tegl, and the gateway consists of handmade stoneware patterned and glazed according to Chinese tradition.
The beautiful sculpture Coatlicue, which hides in a corner of the garden, is made by the Mexican artist Rosario Guillermo Aguilar, who was inspired by the mother figure, fertility, myths, life and death. Coatlicue was a major deity in the Aztec pantheon and was regarded as the earth-mother goddess. She is one of the most fearsome figures in Aztec art, and she represents both the beginning and the end, the birth and the grave.
Aguilar dedicated this sculpture to her mother, who passed away just before the project began. On one side of the sculpture, you can find an engraved poem, which Aguilar wrote for her mother.
In 1966, a trip to the ancient Middle Eastern city Petra, half-built, half carved into the rock of the Jordanian mountains, inspired the Swedish artist Ulla Viotti to start working in stoneware and brick, building great, public works that are at once sculpture and architecture.
This decision has made her a true pioneer and ambassador of bricks. For the Sculpture Park at Guldagergaard, she has collaborated with one of the last active Danish brickworks, Petersen Tegl, to create the massive brick sculpture with the narrow opening that mimics the Greek bird cases called shrines. The slim opening and the dense handmade bricks oppose each other and reflect the conflict of being protected and being free.
By the outer wall of the studio building you will find Hod Leaners by Richard Launder from 2003. Richard Launder is a London based artist and a professor at KHIB in Norway, and has been living in New York for a numbers of years. He is a frequent guest and teacher at Guldagergaard, and many young students have benefitted from his knowledge and experienced guidance. Unfortunately, the original sculpture has been damaged, but the message stays intact:
Richard Launders project is about immigration statistic: immigrants, their belonging, their origin country, stateless people, and numbers of countries represented in Denmark. Richard Launder wanted to use new ways for combining traditional methods, medias and architecture. By creating what looks like a birdhouse, he echoes the birds’ migration across vast distances and numerous obstacles.
Robert Harrison has become known for his site-specific sculptures and museum installations of ‘stacks’ or gateways referencing architectural forms.
For the significant sculpture in Guldagergaard Sculpture Park, Robert Harrison has used traditional Danish brick and layers of industrial fragments donated by the Royal Copenhagen Factory. He called it the ”Skælskør Stack” and it is an image of his constant focus on the Architecture of Space.
Next to the Skælskør Stack is a small white wall with red tiles. The little piece is the remaining part of the sculpture “Passage”, which was made by the Danish ceramic artist Nina Hole, who has also made the beautiful fire sculpture in front of the main house. The rest of the sculpture was unfortunately damaged in 2004. Her original project had references to the Danish architecture associated with traditional Danish churches, which are often white with red roof tiles, and which, through many centuries of Danish history, have been the frame around all of life’s important rites of passage; leaving one condition to enter into a new one.
Nina Hole is one of the co-founders of Guldagergaard, and she has meant a lot for the development of the studios, facilities, and special, magical atmosphere at Guldagergaard. She was cool, colourful, direct, wildly experimental and a clay visionary. She was one of the bright shining stars within ceramic art, but unfortunately, she passed away in the spring of 2016.
Another sculpture in the park is the three salamanders on the little island in the lake welcoming you when you enter Guldagergaard from Heilmannsvej.
According to the Swiss alchemist Paracelsus, the salamander is an elementary spirit, which is connected to fire and knows how to forge beautiful artefacts in the fiery heart of volcanoes. It is therefore only befitting that the three salamanders are one of the first sights, which stares back at you, when you enter Guldagergaard. They were placed in their nest on the small island in the lake by the three Danish artists Betty Engholm, Gerda Østergaard, and Birgit Krogh. They were all members of the artists group Clay Today, which helped found Guldagergaard. The salamanders are made of stoneware and are gas fired.