Anton Smit’s Sculpture Park

Penny Streeter, OBE, has revamped Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens, and installed over eighty sculptures by renowned South African sculpture, Anton Smit

Anton Smit, Rulene Speed, GRP, h 2000 x w 360 x d220, 2021

When Penny Streeter first bought Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens, it had seen better days. First created the 1800s by Sir Edmund Loder, a great collector of both flora and fauna (he was responsible for the arrival of wallabies in Leonardslee, the descedants of which are still living in the gardens). The Streeter family dedicated significant time and money not only to restoring the 240 acres, but also to the creation of a sculpture park within the grounds.

The first artist to exhibit there will be Anton Smit, the celebrated South African sculptor, with a presentation entitled Walks of Life. These eighty works, embedded into the countryside, deal with themes of suffering and reconciliation, apt given that the ponds of the Gardens were apparently first dug to smelt cannonballs for Oliver Cromwell’s army.

Kungwini Head

Among these works is the epic, twelve-metre tall ‘Faith’ statue, the largest single figure statue Smit has ever created, though he is apparently making plans to create one standing at a full 14 feet. Smit, a poet as well as a sculptor, describes it as “investigat[ing] the landscape of the soul, offering a fleeting glimpse of eternity. The dimness of our reflection in the mirror of the universe leaves us gasping for immortality as we sink into the abyss of the self.”

Faith

Penny Streeter and Anton Smit first worked together when Streeter invited him to create work for another of her wine and art resorts, Benguela Cove Sculpture Park and Art Gallery in Hermanus, South Africa, which opened in 2019. This most recent venture took a full two years to come to completion when the shipping of the statues was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic (even without the pandemic, acquiring the 4km of bubble wrap necessary to transport the statues is no mean feat!). Nonetheless, Smit is certain that no delays will undermine the success of the newly opened gardens.

Colossal Youth

Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens have their launch event on the 16th and 17th of September, and Anton Smit is certain that visitors will be delighted by the harmony between the gardens and the sculptures, and the joy of the natural environment.

To learn more about these historic gardens, located in West Sussex, click here.

To learn more about Anton Smit and his work, click here.

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