The King and Queen in Wisley Gardens

Today we went to see the King and Queen at Wisley. And there they were, bethroned in splendid majesty, holding court at the head of the Canal. Serene, timeless, unchanging, a fairy-tale couple in a fairy-tale world.

Henry Moore’s sculpture came to Wisley Gardens in February this year, on loan until the end of September. And now there is a stay of execution, the loan has been extended “due to popular demand”. Of course it would be lovely if this work of art could find a permanent home at Wisley. Great gardens need great sculpture, and the garden at Wisley could be a really great garden for the whole human being, a place of beauty and for education. The RHS would answer that Wisley Gardens is a place for education, this is their focus, they campaign for school gardening, Wisley Gardens hosts a Clore learning space. Their remit is education, to pass on skills and knowledge and the love of gardening. This is not education for the soul, but for the mind and the body. Not for the soul.

Great art brings transcendence. Great art lifts our experience to a different plane, so we become a different type of human being. Great art is about our humanity. Great art places us on Dover beach, and demands that we call back the ebbing tide, so once more the sea of faith surrounds us.

And so, the King and Queen sit in state at Wisley and remind us of who we are, men and women, women and men, at once part of, and transcending nature.


Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold

Henry Moore Foundation