FOUR years ago artist Stephanie Burns and Stephen Hooper came to a turning point in their lives.
The couple, who didn’t own a home, went to bed one night with the idea that they would each think about what they really wanted in life, but had never dared express. In the morning they shared their secret desires. Stephanie wanted to build a sculpture park… no real surprises there and Stephen had always harboured a desire to plant a native forest garden.
“Great,” said Stephanie, “both dreams will meld perfectly”, and so Orion Sculpture Park on the outskirts of Yass was born.
Since then they have transformed a barren 2.83-hectare paddock into a sculpture park with rooms carefully designed to present each piece to best advantage.
There are colourful perennials and bearded irises with increasing shelter and structure from 800 trees, many raised from seed.
The sculpture garden will be open to the public on the weekend of October 29-30 as part of the Open Garden Australia scheme.
By building ponds on the property Stephen has encouraged native wildlife, providing water and food. The vegetation around the pond has been planted to protect the wildlife while they drink.
Stephanie’s bronze sculptures of tulips, animals, still-lifes and figures were all made over the last 22 years. Some of the early sculptures such as “Crawling Baby” and “Motherhood” were made while she was at art school in London, where she lived for 12 years.
Twentieth century sculptors such as Manzu and Picasso have been very influential on her figure sculptures such as “Fish”, “Peter Fuller” and “Saskia”.
Stephanie’s style was developed in the European tradition before she returned to Australia in 1994. The large flowers were her first really Australian works although they are inspired by the tulips she bought at the Chelsea Flower Show and grew in her London garden.