The Myeloma UK Garden by RHS Gold medal winning designers John Everiss and Francesca Murrell will breathe life into the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018 and is one of three major events that will mark the blood cancer charity’s 21 years of making myeloma history.
The Myeloma UK Garden was inspired by Peter King, a Myeloma UK supporter from Hertfordshire whose wife Gill and brother Graham both passed away in 2016 after a short battle with the cancer.
The garden is designed by John Everiss and sponsored by Bord na Móna Horticulture, Meyer Homes and The Christopher Laing Foundation and gives a positive message about the fight against myeloma, which is not yet curable. The large-scale head and shoulder sculpture at the centre of the garden is modelled on Peter and Gill King’s daughter Gemma Peace, from Helensburgh, Scotland, and represents the role of the carer, who is often a pivotal figure in ensuring the patient remains the central focus of a myeloma diagnosis.
The sculpture will weigh seven tonnes, be 12 feet high and constructed from layers of transparent blue Perspex® acrylic. The sculpture will be part-assembled before the show and, as the gates at Chelsea are nine feet high, will be fully constructed on the grounds. The garden is nearly 40 x 20 feet and will be in the Space to Grow section.
John and his team have used cutting edge technology to create this unique sculpture. First, they scanned Gemma’s head and arms to generate a very detailed 3D digital image, which was then turned into the slices of data used to create the multiple layers of the sculpture.
Stage One, who are known, amongst many other high profile projects, for building Thomas Heatherwick’s iconic London 2012 Olympic cauldron, will create the layers using Perspex® acrylic sheet.
Gemma’s left hand is pushing away boulders and bog oaks. These are physical representations of plasma cells, from which the cancer arises, as well as symbols of the barriers and the obstacles people face in care when they suffer with myeloma. The boulders weigh up to two tonnes each and have been supplied by Mid Wales Stone.
The bog oaks are perfectly preserved ancient trees provided by Bord na Móna Horticulture. Buried in peat bogs and preserved from decay, these trees are incredible specimens that still retain their bark and can date back hundreds, or even thousands of years. Francesca Murrell has created the planting design and has fashioned the bog oaks to appear as if they are disappearing into new fresh plantings, representing how new medicines, families and carers are taking over from the old generations.
Gemma’s right hand is cupped and she appears to be gently blowing seeds and plants onto fertile soil below, to represent new treatment and as a sign of hope and growth.
There is no defined path through the garden, purposefully mirroring the situation many myeloma patients face. Up to 60 different plants and trees feature across the garden including: Taxus balls, Prunus and Malus, Anthriscus sylvestris, Matteuccia struthiopteris and Melica nutans.
Rosemarie Finley, Chief Executive of Myeloma UK, says:
“2018 marks 21 years of Myeloma UK and we are proud to announce our first ever garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, as part of our annual programme of events.
Our goal has always been to find a cure for myeloma but until that time, we exist to provide information and support to patients and carers alike.
The themes of our garden are care and hope which should both move and inspire visitors.”
John Everiss, designer of The Myeloma UK Garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018, says:
“When Myeloma UK contacted me about doing this garden, I didn’t have a second thought about it. It’s been an amazing process and particularly enjoyable working with people that really believe in what they are doing.
The Myeloma UK Garden is a wonderful tool for telling a story and for getting people emotionally involved. I’m hoping visitors to Chelsea will come away from the garden knowing more about myeloma – and also how they can support the charity.”
Myeloma UK staff members will take part in building The Myeloma UK Garden and will be available at the show to provide information and to help promote awareness of the cancer.