“THREE SISTERS – Time, Life, Space” 1986

Three Sisters

As part of an initiative to regenerate several towns through a National Garden Festival scheme, the Public Arts Commissioning Agency invited about 20 sculptors to each create a work in one of the gardens at the Stoke on Trent Garden Festival, funded by West Midlands Arts.

Rose Garrard was offered a commission for a sculpture to be sited in the reconstruction of a Medieval Herb Garden, but at first turned it down when she saw that the garden designer had already included the figure of a romantic fairy-tale lady wearing a pointed wimple in his plan.  After further persuasion Rose researched the history of such gardens and the medicinal use of herbs by traditional village healers, usually women, who were often burnt as witches.  At that point in history medieval universities were being founded where only men could study early ‘science’ to become the first doctors, but all women and their ‘superstitions’ were excluded.  She conceived and made the three life-size female figures in medieval costume, each holding two period objects that represent the development of understanding from superstition to science of ‘Time’, of ‘Life’ (healing), and of ‘Space’.  On the lap of the central figure is a gold scroll listing twelve pioneering women healers, who were later proved to have been unjustly executed for witchcraft.  The sculpture was made in resin and fibre-glass and was initially sold to a herb farm, but was subsequently damaged beyond repair by children jumping and climbing on it during the festival.  Rose still has the surviving sculpted heads in her garden.