PRESS RELEASE – January 2024
Denmans Garden Announce their Artist-in-Residence 2024
Oscar Romp, Figurative Artist
Oscar Romp, a Sussex-based artist whose paintings will be featured at the Oxmarket Contemporary Gallery from 20th February – 3 March in Chichester, is Denmans Garden’s Artist-in-Residence for 2024. A figurative artist, Oscar comes from a family of artists (more about the lineage of the family group can be found here) and has worked across the UK and internationally as a commissioned site-specific artist, painter and illustrator with clients including Kings College Hospital NHS Trust and The National Trust.
Oscar, also a dancer, music-lover and DJ, is Denmans’ third artist-in-residence, following landscape artist Sue England and watercolourist Jo Dowers, and he began sketching at Denmans at the end of last year. His early work at Denmans is vivid, stylised, and conjures a new vision of Denmans as seen through his eyes. The contrast of this new work with what has come before will add to the rich and rewarding AIR programme at Denmans Garden.
Gwendolyn van Paasschen, Chair of the John Brookes-Denmans Foundation says:
‘We are delighted to have Oscar here as Denmans Garden’s third artist-in-residence. A brilliant muralist, musician, and painter, he brings a unique and exciting perspective and it will be fascinating to see the garden through his eyes over the course of four seasons.
In the short time he has been with us, he has already developed a profound connection with the garden and it will be fascinating to see where it leads him – and us.’
Oscar Romp says:
‘There is always a way through. As it is with the Denmans Garden ongoing designing and shaping, so it is with my picture-making. In both cases the eye and the feet bounce from shape to shape, fashioning-out a visual and a trodden pathway through the landscape; humans do this instinctively, whether following the flow of a constructed dry-river-bed garden design, or simply peering through a hedge at an open, sunlit field beyond. In both cases the job is ongoing and never finished.
I’m known for my ‘clubscape’ drawings and paintings of Northern Soul, Funk, House and Jazz-dance club events where I draw live on location in real time, focussing on the vibe and elan of the event. Being a dancer, music-lover and DJ myself, I work from the viewpoint of a committed participant, not only as an observer.
At Denman’s the garden subject is very different from Gigs and Discos, but my approach and process are much the same. My starting point always comes from being there, working live at the place, in the moment. You can see the energy and excitement in the initial marks I make in the first stage of working live on site. And the later ‘post-production’ stage is an attempt to focus and go deeper, without actually obliterating that initial excitement of confronting a subject and pulling out from it a pictorial motif. It is a kind of balancing act.
Before I came to Denmans I made a series of paintings and drawings at Arundel Wetlands Reserve, and have made many paintings of my mother’s garden, – who being a painter herself, – follows a gardening ethos similar to that pursued at Denmans. She has John Brookes’ book on her shelf at home. My garden paintings are underpopulated compared to my ‘clubscape’ paintings; and yet they come to life when figures, be they humans or birds, are present interacting with the landscape depicted.
I think Gwendolyn has picked up on this interaction and has suggested that I ‘shadow’ the volunteer teams when they are working in the garden, so I can draw them ‘live in action’. I think this is a fabulous idea.
Joyce Robinson and John Brookes MBE, the original creators of Denmans Garden, were both interested in the concept and connection between art and the garden. Mrs Robinson had a painterly aesthetic, referring to her garden as her ‘canvas’ while Brookes, a Modernist, was influenced strongly by abstract painters like Piet Mondrian, Ben Nicholsen, and Kazimir Malevich. He regarded the garden as a collage of shapes, likening the creation of a garden to sculpture, and believed that the connection between art and garden is multifaceted.
Denmans Garden wants to preserve and expand this artistic legacy and began the Artist-in-Residence programme in 2021. Oscar Romp’s year at Denmans will culminate in an exhibition in late autumn in Midpines Café at Denmans Garden. More information will be available direct from the Denmans website nearer the time.
Oscar will be recording his experiences and observations on his website and Denmans Garden will include updates on its website blog and social media as the year progresses, beginning with an interview with Oscar available here:
For more information on Oscar go to https://www.oscarromp.co.uk/
For more information, please contact Louise Campbell: email@example.com 07540892364
NOTES FOR EDITORS
The former home and garden of the late John Brookes MBE, one of Britain’s most influential landscape designers, Denmans Garden features dry riverbeds, gravel gardens, a walled garden, a conservatory, and unusual plants from around the world. The contemporary 4-acre garden was converted from market garden to ornamental garden by plantswoman Joyce Robinson who started the gravel gardens in 1970.
In 1946, Joyce and Hugh Robinson purchased land that had belonged to Lord Denman at the turn of the century. They moved into the dilapidated gardener’s cottage and renovated the badly neglected property, creating a successful market garden, complete with greenhouses, conservatories, a walled garden, dairy, and piggery. Their produce went by train to Covent Garden Market and to local shops. Joyce, known as Mrs. J.H., eventually converted it from market garden to ornamental garden, residing in the charming cottage until her passing in 1996.
John Brookes MBE moved to Denmans in 1980. Until his death in March 2018, he revised the garden continually, integrating Mrs. J.H.’s planting style and retaining the two dry riverbeds she created. Renovations he began are ongoing.
Today Denmans is a contemporary country garden renowned for its curvilinear layout, faux dry riverbeds, water features, complex and unusual plantings, and its peaceful year-round interest.
Located between Arundel and Chichester, Denmans is highly significant in the history of garden design.