Shell Garden by Sidney Dowdeswell

Hindlip, Worcestershire, England, UK

Demolished 1980s

The Disappointed Tourist: Shell Garden, Ellen Harvey, 2021. Oil and acrylic on Gessoboard, 18 x 24″ (46 x 61 cm). Photograph: Etienne Frossard.

There is a film about the shell garden. It’s this clip that stuck in my mind. I saw it as a child. He’d spent 40 years on it in 1962. It also demonstrates the possibilities of cement. You can mould concrete like jelly when you know how. The porcelain works may well have been Royal Worcester. I’ve worked in their archives. They employed artists. The Museum of Royal Worcester archive has some wonderful reference books. Astonishing and charming outsider art. Destroyed by a property developer. Robin C.

Sidney Dowdeswell (1884-1977) started to transform his garden into a mosaic and shell fantasy in 1921. He continued working on it until his death at 93. In the early 1980s, the plot was developed and the garden was demolished. The painting is based on an old black-and-white postcard.