Gold and Best Artisan Garden Awards at Chelsea Flower Show for Somerset Artists

‘…nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats’


Just back from a stint at Chelsea Flower Show celebrating the success of the Viking Cruises Mekong Garden’s gold and best artisan awards, Somerset-based artists Fiona Campbell and Nick Weaver were overawed by the massive interest in their focal pieces for the garden, which certainly had the wow factor.

A seemingly endless stream of visitors in their 1000s admired and appreciated the garden, designed by multi-gold award-winner Sarah Eberle.  People expressed how much they would love to lounge on Nick’s boat (paint effects by Nigel Evans) and chill – with the water gently lapping around them and visitors were charmed by the ethereal beauty of Fiona’s canopy, many intrigued by its makeup.  Sarah Eberle described it in her BBC TV interview this week with Joe Swift as her best bit of the garden: “I love the canopy.. like a celestial beam.. wonderfully charming”!

Fiona and Nick installing canopy at Chelsea

Artistic duo Fiona Campbell and Nick Weaver, who worked together on ‘step in stone’, an ambitious art in quarries project in Somerset, were commissioned by landscape designer Sarah Eberle FSGD to create two of the focal pieces for her RHS Chelsea Flower Show Artisan Garden this year.  Created for Viking Cruises, the garden is inspired by Cambodia’s floating gardens and artisanal fishing techniques in the Mekong River region, following Sarah’s journey on board the Viking Cruises Magnificent Mekong.  Fiona created a large canopy inspired by traditional fishing nets and silk weaving.  Nick made a lounger styled on a traditional fishing boat.

The 7 x 5m garden is entirely water with a small deck leading to the boat/lounger and cantilevered canopy suspended above. The beds follow the style of the region and contain an eclectic mixture of fruit, flowers and vegetables.  Harvested hazel, other reclaimed woods and a plethora of woven wire, silk and found materials have all be used to harmonise with the planting.

Viking Cruises Mekong Garden - Canopy & Boat. Photo by Guardian Gardens

Fiona was approached by Sarah after seeing her installation piece “Lichen” at the Maureen Michaelson Gallery stand at GROW London last year.  “The 4 metre textured fishing net/canopy I made by hand incorporates fine woven copper wires, fruit netting bags, twine, silk, wool and other surprising found and reclaimed materials like fish skeletons!  I also made 3 wire baskets used as props.  It was a great pleasure and honour working with Sarah. The team involved many others, including other Somerset artists Nigel Evans (paint effects on boat) and Angela Morley (supplied trombone squash), and we are grateful to all who have supported us, given materials and helped!”

After over 4 months of hard work, Fiona and Nick are a little exhausted but elated! 

Left to right:  Fiona Campbell, Nick Weaver and Sarah Eberle lounging on Nick’s Boat
Viking Cruises Mekong Garden – Canopy & Boat. Photo by Guardian Gardens