Weather picture is mixed, but 8,000 flock to Art in the Gardens

5 Aug 2014.......Simon Kent with his installation in the Bear Pit in Sheffield Botanical Gardens. The sculptor's work is part of Art in the Gardens which runs this weekend SM1004/88c

5 Aug 2014.......Simon Kent with his installation in the Bear Pit in Sheffield Botanical Gardens. The sculptor's work is part of Art in the Gardens which runs this weekend SM1004/88c

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The Friday night preview was a sell-out on a warm moon-lit night, persistent rain took a heavy toll on Saturday and the sun and the crowds came out on Sunday.

It was a mixed picture, at least weather-wise, for the 11th Art in the Gardens.

Altogether, around 8,000 people flocked to the Botanical Gardens over the weekend, which certainly pleased the organisers.

“As a whole, it was a very successful event, especially considering it rained all day Saturday,” said council organiser Howard Simpson.

After the 850 ticket sell-out for the preview, the wet weather meant it was the more serious art lovers who turned out to see the work on display - of professionals and amateurs.

Then families turned out in force in the Sunday sunshine, not only for the largest outdoor art show in the north, but also the craft stalls, demonstrations, live music and children’s entertainment that spilled down the gardens.

Around 10,000 pieces of work from more than 300 artists, sculptors and craftsmen were on display over the weekend.

Cabinet member Coun Isobel Bowler said: “What is really special about Art in the Gardens is that it offers amateur and first-time artists the chance to exhibit their work alongside much more famous names. I hope that those who exhibited for the first time this weekend will be back with us next year.”

Coun Bowler also paid tribute to Sharon Gill, who is stepping down after curating Art in the Gardens for seven years to become chief executive of Rotherham Open Arts Renaissance.

The weekend was “fantastic”, said Sharon. “The preview was unprecedented in terms of numbers, and the artists were saying there was a lovely atmosphere. The weather was lovely.

“Saturday was obviously lower in numbers, but that’s not to say people didn’t come. If you come in the rain, it’s because you want to buy some art. In terms of sales, I think people did OK. Sunday was a lovely day and very, very busy.”

The event has become “a well-oiled machine”, said Sharon, who has made her mark over the past seven years by slightly reordering the site, introducing garden sculptures and putting art installations in the old bear pit. Now the council is pondering on her replacement.

“We always need to be coming up with new ideas, especially after the 11th year,” said Howard Simpson. “We need to attract new visitors and we need to get new artists.”