Denmans Garden announces first artist-in-residence

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West Sussex painter Sue England has been announced as Denmans Garden’s artist-in-residence.

Sue was recently featured on Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year as a wild card winner and a 2019 finalst.

She has been visiting the garden regularly since the late summer of 2021 and her work will be shown in an exhibition later on in the year.

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Sue said: “I am excited about this new project as ‘Artist-in-Residence’ at Denmans Garden - a wonderful opportunity to explore this amazing space.

Artist Sue EnglandArtist Sue England
Artist Sue England

“This beautiful, prestigious garden was created originally by Mrs Joyce Robinson and later world-famous landscape and garden designer John Brookes.

“I’m very interested in Brookes’ connection with ‘modern art’ and the abstract work of people like Ben Nicholson and Kazimir Malevich.

“I look forward to observing the changing seasons, as well as trying to understand the ethos of the garden and how that might be expressed in my artwork.”

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One of Sue's finished pieces 'A September border'One of Sue's finished pieces 'A September border'
One of Sue's finished pieces 'A September border'

Original creators of the garden in Fontwell, both Joyce Robinson and John Brookes MBE were interested in the concept and connection between art and the garden. Mrs Robinson had a painterly aesthetic, referring to her garden as her ‘canvas’ while Brookes, a Modernist, was influenced strongly by abstract painters, Ben Nicholsen and Piet Mondrian.

He taught that garden design is about the ‘relationship of shapes’ and believed that understanding abstract art could teach his students to understand how to create patterns and shapes in a garden layout and how those patterns and shapes should relate to each another and the architecture of the house.

He remained keen to show that the connection between art and garden is multifaceted.

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Sue, as Artist-in-Residence, will interpret the garden in her paintings, reinforcing Denmans Garden’s ongoing restoration and place as a creative and cultural hub.

She said: “I started the project last September, and I spend on average two days a week working in the garden or in my studio, but thinking time and experimentation is continuous.

“My inspiration comes from the garden itself. The spaces, the planting, the weather, the changing light and seasons, the design and history of both Joyce Robinson (plantswoman and owner) and John Brookes (owner and international garden designer) and talking with the present owner Gwendolyn van Paasschen.”

Sue is currently half through the 12 month project, and has so far finished 20 paintings of various sizes, oil on canvas or board and framed, numerous works on paper with mixed media, and completed two A3 sketch books.

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Sue explains that it is a privilege to be Denmans first Artist-in-Residence, even if a little scary.

“I hope I can rise to the challenge and do it justice,” she added.

“I was surprised and flattered to be asked but excited about the challenge of painting in a more confined space, a change from my usual more open landscape subject matter.

“Also the chance to create work over a longish period of time was something I’d not attempted before.”

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Gwendolyn van Paasschen, chair of the John Brookes-Denmans Foundation said: “This is a rich and fascinating collaboration, and we are looking forward to seeing the garden through Sue’s imaginative and perceptive eyes as she visits, records, draws, and paints the garden.’”

The culmination of the residency will be an exhibition of Sue’s work in the Pavilion at Denmans Garden from Thursday, September 15 to Saturday, October 15 which will be part of the wider Chichester Culture Spark programme celebrating Chichester’s cultural anniversaries in 2022 with a brand new, creative season of events, performances, live entertainment and community projects to celebrate the region’s cultural and artistic assets.

Other events will include workshops and the annual John Brookes lecture (October 9), a panel discussion on Art and the Garden, and an opportunity to reflect on the collaboration and celebrate the special connection between an artist’s work and the landscapes of gardens and the natural world.

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Denmans Garden’s focus on art and education/teaching is very much in keeping with the ethos of its previous owners Joyce Robinson and John Brookes and alongside other events throughout the year it is bringing back short garden design courses in the autumn in association with London College of Garden Design, on four Mondays between October 10 and November 7.

It is described as the perfect course for homeowners with new gardens or those who are ready to redesign their existing garden.

There’s an early bird discount for those who sign up by the end of April and more information here:

To find more information about the garden, other events running throughout the year at Denmans, visit

For more information on Sue, visit