GARDEN FIGURES COMISSIONED FOR CHISWICK HOUSE
It was 50 years ago this June 1st when The Beatles’ John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr astonished and delighted the world, ushering in the Summer of Love with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, a ground-breaking masterwork that became popular music’s most universally acclaimed album.
What you perhaps didn’t know was that Clifton Nurseries in Maida Vale contributed towards the shoot for the original album cover artwork and to celebrate this, they are creating an interpretation of the cover which will be on display at Chiswick House and Gardens during the Chelsea Fringe Festival.
Speaking of the display Clare O’Brien, Director at Chiswick House & Gardens Trust said “We are delighted to welcome the Sgt Pepper living installation to Chiswick House and Gardens. As The Beatles have a long standing connection to the Gardens, it’s wonderful to host this anniversary celebration for many visitors to enjoy.”
How the cover came to be….
Whilst the original album cover tells a number of different stories (many of which are currently being retold all over the UK), the Clifton’s team wanted to focus on the lesser known story – the origin of the flower bed.
Designs often have a dramatic backstory of interwoven components, the design for flower bed used on the Sgt Pepper album cover was anything but! The much discussed and speculated photoshoot contains all manner of subtle details and imagery from popular culture at the time, however the flowers, supplied by Clifton Nurseries in March 1967, were simply the result of a last minute phone call, asking for whatever flowers the nursery had on the day.
Shortly after the phone call was made, the Clifton’s delivery boy turned up on his bicycle armed with a range of Hyacinths and Peperomia plants for the raised plant bed. An unexpected feature was then introduced last minute when the Clifton’s delivery boy asked if he could make a guitar shape with yellow hyacinths, one of the many random additions that made the final cut. This evolving design and jumble of ideas became the backstory of the album sleeve, which sort to reflect the eclectic nature of the LP itself.
In creating this modern take on a feature garden, the Clifton’s Design team wanted to capture the essence of the Sgt Pepper album cover and the story behind the flower bed, whilst bringing the 2D photograph into a 3D reality. The team decided to steer away from a lavish re-interpretation of the artwork and instead focus on bringing the most iconic features to life.
The Beatles have been lovingly recreated by Agrumi Ltd, using a wire framed structure and covered in New Zealand Moss. ‘When Clifton Nurseries came to us and asked if we could help them with creating a topiary version of the “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album cover we immediately said yes’, says director Stanley Jackson. ‘Our principal topiary sculptor loved the brief of retaining the iconic elements of the image and set to work creating the steel armatures around which the topiary is formed.’
When trying to find of a venue to display the feature, the team didn’t have to think for too long. Not only does Chiswick House and Gardens have a long history with the Beatles, featuring on the ‘Paperback Writer’ and ‘Rain’ promotional videos, but also with Gavin Jones Ltd, the parent company to Clifton Nurseries, who in partnership with Chiswick House and Gardens Trust, look after the grounds. It’s great when a story comes together!
The Beatles release a suite of lavishly presented ‘Sgt. Pepper’ Anniversary Edition packages on May 26. The album is newly mixed by Giles Martin and Sam Okell in stereo and 5.1 surround audio and expanded with early takes from the studio sessions, including no fewer than 34 previously unreleased recordings.
Notes for editors
Chiswick House & Gardens Trust
Chiswick House & Gardens Trust is a registered charity, created jointly by English Heritage and the London Borough of Hounslow in 2006. The Trust is dedicated to the preservation, restoration, maintenance, repair and enhancement of this outstanding Grade I listed house and gardens, and their contents, as heritage treasures for the benefit of the public.
Chiswick house is an 18th century villa set in classically landscaped gardens in west London. One of the earliest and finest examples of neoclassical architecture in the UK, the house was designed from 1720-32 by Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington, and his associate the painter, garden designer and architect, William Kent. www.chiswickhouseandgardens.org.uk