A towering new sculpture now welcomes visitors to Cornell Botanic Gardens: “Double Allium,” crafted of metal and glass, stands 12 feet tall and sits along the walkway to the Nevin Welcome Center. The work features graceful leaves crafted of metal and closed blooms in purple glass.
Jenny Pickford, a contemporary artist blacksmith based in the United Kingdom, created the sculpture to illustrate the co-existence and co-dependence of strength and fragility in the natural world. Its whimsical qualities are inspired by Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland,” and aim to invoke childlike awe and wonder toward nature.
Cornell alumna Anne Simon Moffat ’69 and husband Keith Moffat, a professor at the University of Chicago, commissioned the sculpture for Cornell Botanic Gardens. The couple are experienced glass collectors, and share a love of gardening—Anne Moffat is a certified Master Gardener.
“Keith and I wanted to combine our passion for glass, gardening, and Cornell University by bringing a majestic, iconic sculpture to Cornell Botanic Gardens,” Anne Moffat said. “We hope that it will draw people to plants and deepen their understanding of our vital interrelationship with the natural world.”
The sculpture was dedicated on June 8 at Anne Moffat’s 50th Class Reunion.
Pickford designs her sculptures for outdoor installation, where they draw attention to the natural beauty around them. Cornell Botanic Gardens’ sculpture is her first permanent installation in the U.S. and her first sculpture in the double allium form.
Art highlights what is there and makes people notice its presence,” Pickford said, noting the glass features of her works “allow natural sunlight to pour into the glass.”
To create these structures, Pickford uses blacksmithing skills in her forge to transform industrial steel into a malleable form, bringing the piece to life. She uses special tools she has made herself, along with a fly press and 1930s-era power hammer. She obtains the glass pieces through partnerships with distinguished glass blowers.
Pickford’s sculptures are featured all over the world, including in China, Australia and across the United Kingdom. One her most notable works is the “Bluebell” sculpture at the Royal Derby Hospital in Derby, England, where it is in place to connect cancer patients with the hope and beauty of nature.
“Double Allium” stands on the lawn near the Bioswale Garden at Cornell Botanic Gardens and along the walkway to the Nevin Welcome Center.