Birmingham brings back sixth Gold from Chelsea

Birmingham City Council has scooped Gold at the Chelsea Flower Show for the sixth year running, in the floral category, with a display that celebrates the work of Birmingham* artist, cartoonist and inventor Rowland Emett OBE – famous for his Chitty Chitty Bang Bang inventions.

Darren Share MBE, who led the team for Birmingham City Council, said: “I’m delighted that we have achieved our sixth Chelsea Gold for Birmingham but it was with mixed feelings that I received it this morning as everyone was waking up to hear about the Manchester attack.  The mood here is reflective and sombre today.

“I would like to thank the Rowland Emett Society for helping us to celebrate the achievements of another wonderfully creative artist taught in Birmingham.

“I would also like to thank my team who have worked so hard to bring Emett’s work to life with the power of plants.  And of course our sponsors who have paid for the display and all the plants and moving features within it.”

The 10m x 10m island display in the Floral Marquee – GPG214 – is called A Quiet Afternoon in the Cloud Cuckoo Valley.  It has been sponsored by Greenspace Leisure, Rowland Emett Society, Veolia, Akamba Heritage Centre, Pentland Plants, Certis, and individuals who have bought panels.

Background –

*Rowland Emett OBE, was born in North London, 22 October 1906 and moved to Small Heath, Birmingham at the start of WW1.  He went to Waverley Grammar School in Small Heath and studied at Birmingham School of Art, then known as Central School of Arts and Crafts.  He later worked at Siviter Smith as a process engraver in Birmingham before becoming a cartoonist and inventor.  Emett created mechanical machines to amuse and excite the people who saw them. The display incorporates elements of Emett’s work into a floral display and depicts a quiet afternoon in Cloud Cuckoo Valley.

Two pieces of work have been allocated to the display – the first is a bather taking a dive into a pool from a bathing hut and the second is the locomotive ‘Wild Goose’. This is a working train and carriages.

The Display

The train moves above the display on a track three metres off the floor. The track starts at the edge of the display and sits on top of a floral tunnel running through the display. The entrance to the tunnel is planted to look like a rail tunnel and displays pictures of Birmingham.

One side of the display is an ivy wall of metal and wicker moving cogs and gears. In the middle of the wall there is a water feature moving water buckets up to a river.  The river continues in a waterfall, landing on the perspex roof of the tunnel.  Water is then taken through planted valleys to a beach area with a diver and bathing hut.

The valleys are at one end of the display, over the tunnel and down to the beach. Wicker animals will be used to add movement and will be situated in the bedding scheme.

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