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Towering ‘Double Allium’ installed at Botanic Gardens

A towering new sculpture welcomes visitors to the Cornell Botanic Gardens: Double Allium, crafted of metal and glass, stands 12 feet tall and sits along the walkway to the Nevin Welcome Center.  Above, Anne Simon Moffat ’69, right, and husband Keith Moffat, center, along with Christopher Dunn, executive director of Cornell Botanic Gardens, cut the ribbon on Double Allium, a steel-and-glass sculpture by blacksmith-artist Jenny Pickford, June 8 during Reunion 2019. Photo by Sonja Skelly/Cornell University

A towering new sculpture welcomes visitors to the 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.

Anne Simon Moffat ’69 and husband Keith Moffat, a professor at the University of Chicago, commissioned the sculpture, which was dedicated June 8 during Reunion weekend. Anne Moffat was celebrating her 50th reunion.

The Moffats are experienced glass collectors and share a love of gardening.

“Keith and I wanted to combine our passion for glass, horticulture and Cornell University by bringing an iconic sculpture to Cornell Botanic Gardens,” said Anne Moffat, a certified master gardener. “We hope that it will give visitors joy and deepen their understanding of our relationship with the natural world.”

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” is installed on the lawn near the Bioswale Garden at Cornell Botanic Gardens and along the walkway to the Nevin Welcome Center. The gardens are free of charge and open dawn to dusk daily.

Alice Soewito is marketing and communications intern at Cornell Botanic Gardens.

This article also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.