Actual, Factual Fable sculptures from Laura Ford summer at Meijer Gardens

“Viewers are confronted with kindly woodland creatures, now urbanized, who are down on their luck and forced to forage and beg for sustenance,” Joseph Becherer, Vice President and Chief Curator of Horticulture and Sculpture at Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, MI, states. “Her work shows sly foxes who must beg, clever badgers who need to scavenge and lady hedgehogs reduced to lives as bag ladies. Ford’s goal is to engage viewers with kindly animals with offering insight and sincerity that endears us to their plight, and by extension the plight of the humans they represent.”

Great Indoors 2
Sculptures from the Great Indoors, Laura Ford, courtesy of Meijer Gardens

Becherer is describing the Rag and Bone series of sculptures by British sculptor Laura Ford. Together, the Rag and Bone series and the Great Indoors series make up the Laura Ford: Actual, Factual Fables exhibit now on display at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. The collection of anthropomorphic animals, mischievous children and hybrid creatures represent Ford’s first solo show in the U.S. The Meijer gardens are the exclusive venue for Laura Ford: Actual, Factual Fables which is on display until 21 August, 2011.

Ford, who has received widespread acclaim in Europe for her witty yet poignant imagery, draws inspiration from a variety of sources and experiences. In the tradition of Beatrix Potter, Aesop, the Brothers Grimm and others she weaves contemporary societal and cultural issues such homelessness, poverty, violence and war into visual works of art that not only tell and engaging tale but also provide valuable lessons.

“At a distance, each animal seems to resemble a large stuffed toy, but on closer inspection the lifelike scale suggest that these are far from children’s playthings, but creatures of imagination and message,” Becherer explained. “Each is partially cloaked in camouflage, calling to mind and juxtaposing the roles of the hunted and the hunter, the obvious nature of the target contrasted with the subtlety of the seeker.”

Born in Cardiff, Wales in 1961 Ford  is among the foremost figures of a new generation of British Artists whose work has become internationally regarded in the tradition of Henry Moore, Anthony Caro, Antony Gormley and Tony Cragg. Ford represented her native Wales at the famed Venice Biennale in 2005 and has shown her works across England, Sweden, Germany and Spain. She currently lives and works in London.

Laura Ford: Actual, Factual Fables is her first solo show in the U.S. Organized in cooperation with the Galerie Scheffel in Germany, the exhibition is sponsored by Bissell Inc., Michigan Council for arts and Cultural Affairs, National Endowment for the Arts, The Meijer Foundation and the Botanic and Sculpture Societies of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Scripture Park.

One of the world’s most significant botanic and sculpture experiences, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park hosts more than a half-million visitors annually. The 132-acre grounds, recently ranked in the top 100 most-visited art museum in the world by Art Newspaper, features Michigan’s largest conservatory, one on the nation’s largest children’s gardens, bronze sculptures by Degas and Rodin in arid and Victorian gardens, a 1900-seat amphitheater and a carnivorous plant house!

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