Rock-sculpture-science: exploring beneath the surface of sculpture

Posted by pt91 at Aug 30, 2011 11:16 AM |
Geology tours of University of Leicester Sculpture exhibition: on August 25 and September 13

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 23 August 2011

‘Rock Detectives’ workshops are to be held at the University of Leicester’s Botanic Garden Sculpture exhibition along with special public geology tours.

This year the University of Leicester’s highly popular annual international sculpture exhibition celebrates ‘A Decade of Sculpture in the Garden’, at the spectacular Botanic Garden in Oadby, and once again there will be opportunities to discover some of the secrets in the materials used by the sculptors.

These all have their own stories, stretching back for millions of years, and these stories will be revealed in geology tours round the exhibition and in special ‘Rock Detectives’ workshops for schools in the Garden.

Geology tours on Thursday 25 August, 6.00-8.00pm, and Tuesday 13 September, 5.00-7.00pm will unveil the mysteries of rocks formed in warm shallow seas teeming with life or in the dark deep ocean; of rocks caught up between colliding continents and squeezed and cooked; of rocks crystallised in the searing heat of a magma chamber. 

Dr Gawen Jenkin, from the University of Leicester Department of Geology, will lead a mini-field trip identifying and examining the rocks that the sculptors chose to work on and how they were formed. Using images of the same rocks taken under the microscope he will explain the story written within the rocks and also show an inner beauty that cannot normally be seen. Other materials will also be explored, including bronze, steel and even plastics. These are also derived from rocks and an understanding of them will enhance appreciation of the sculptures themselves.

On the September tour Gawen will be joined by sculptor Austin Orwin who teaches sculpture at the Embrace Arts Centre and who will provide a parallel commentary from an artist’s perspective – the hope being to bridge the divide between the “two cultures.”

Special tours adapted to suit specific groups (two hours maximum) can also be arranged. Both specialist tours and standard tours can be booked through Embrace Arts, RA centre, University of Leicester, tel 0116 252 2455, or visit the website

The cost will be £3.00 for adults, children are free.

Schools enrolling in Dr Jenkin’s ‘Rock Detectives’ sessions at the exhibition will also learn about the geology of the rocks and the mysteries behind their formation in a programme specifically designed for Key Stages 2, 3 and 4.  

Pupils will examine and test the properties of different rocks, explore the Botanic Garden to find different uses of rocks and then design and make a sculpture from quick-drying clay to take home.

Bookings for ‘Rock Detectives’ can be made through The SEED Store, University of Leicester Botanic Garden, tel/fax 0116 271 2933, email

Geology outreach relating to the sculptures is supported by the Curry Fund of the Geologists’ Association

‘A Decade of Sculpture in the Garden’, will run until 30 October. Except for special Botanic Garden Open Days (see the website for details), entrance is free and the exhibition features sculptures from more than sixty artists of international, national and regional renown.

This year’s exhibition has once again been curated by Dr John Sydney Carter.

The Botanic Garden is transformed into a living, tactile and visual environment where visitors can experience work by some of the most internationally renowned sculptors of our time within an inspirational outdoor setting.

Normal Botanic Garden opening times are 10am-4pm Monday-Friday all year (except for the Christmas-New Year period) and on Saturday and Sunday from the third weekend in March to the second weekend in November. The entrance to the Garden is in Glebe Road, Oadby.

From 30th July until the end of the sculpture exhibition on 30th October, the opening hours of the Botanic Garden will be extended until 5pm. The café will be open until 4.30.

Geology Tours and ‘Rock Detectives’ are only available by prior booking. 

Notes to Editors: Further details are available from

Stella Couloutbanis, Visual Arts Manager, Embrace Arts at the RA centre, email, tel 0116 223 1529

or Ruth Godfrey , The SEED Store, University of Leicester Botanic Garden, email, tel 0116 271 2933.

or Dr Gawen Jenkin, Department of Geology, , tel 0116 252 3934

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