International support to save Tasting Garden

One of the bronze sculptures.
One of the bronze sculptures.

National and international figures from the world of art are calling on Lancaster City Council not to “destroy” The Storey’s Tasting Garden.

Sir Nicholas Serota, director of Tate, has pledged his support for the restoration of the artwork, which has fallen into disrepair since it was created by Mark Dion in 1998.

Councillors discussed its future at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, with options including removing the artwork altogether, transferring it to Williamson Park, and restoring it using resin in place of bronze.

The work includes pathways and plinths, but the four bronze fruits were stolen some time ago.

Suzy Jones, a freelance curator, who spoke at the meeting, said the artwork’s creator Mark Dion would like to see the work restored in its entirety, in its current location, and was happy with resin replacements.

She added: “The Tasting Gardens’ restoration has over the past four days of social media promotion gained the support of 600 people.

“These include significant national and international figures from the art world including Sir Nicholas Serota, director of Tate, and that of Tate, to help secure funds to restore the Tasting Garden.”

She said the work was intended to be in that location, depicting the orchard that has been on the site since the 1600s, and that any additions to the Tasting Garden, such as benches and other artworks, would be like asking to “write on the corner of a Picasso”.

Annie Watson, from the Friends of the Storey Gardens, said opinion is divided within the group, but for her the Tasting Garden was a “failure” and the space could be better used for the community.

She added that the Friends would not maintain the work.

John Angus, formerly of the Storey Gallery said: “The council has a simple choice. If it really wants Lancaster to be an arts city it will restore the Tasting Gardens.

“If it decides to remove the Tasting Gardens Lancaster City Council will have an international reputation as a destroyer of art.”

But Coun Jon Barry said: “Basically we’re asking Mark Dion whether he’d be okay with us moving the artwork to Williamson Park, or somewhere similar, while exploring other funding options.”