Santa Rita Garden, Painting With Wine and Just Asking

Santa Rita Living La Vida 120 Garden
Award-winning drought resistant garden

Some of you may remember seeing the Santa Rita ‘Living La Vida 120’ Garden at RHS Hampton Court Flower Show a few years ago. Alan Rudden’s design won a Gold medal and Best World Garden. Boldly coloured burnt-yellow steel feature walls, chunky gabion walls of bright rough stone and seven pollarded strawberry trees (Arbutus unedo) were memorable features.

Garden with yellow steel walls and shorter gabion walls
Gabion walls of rough stone

The planting was designed to suit the arid, Mediterranean-style climate we fear the country might be heading inexorably towards. Cool green foliage predominated, with a little fun from variegated Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’ and Agave filifera ssp. schidigera ‘Shira ito no Ohi’. Silver accents came from Senecio ‘Angel Wings’, Agave parryi var. huachucensis and Santolina chamaecyparissus, while Agapanthus africanus ‘Blue Storm’, Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’ and ‘Ostfreisland’ provided blue and purple.

Common thyme and sage added fragrance while spiky plants such as Aloe spinosissima, Chamaerops humilis and Agave gentryi ‘Jaws’ gave texture.

Red wine used as ink
Painting with red wine as ink

The garden was sponsored by Santa Wines and to underline this, an artist was painting the garden red, using their wine. I’d never seen this done before.

Detail of the Santa Rita garden seating area
Detail: plants around the seating area

Artist with a painting of the Santa Rita garden at Hampton Court

He was extremely good-natured. Repeatedly holding up the painting for visitors to see before the ‘ink’ was dry had made a drip effect an accidental feature of the painting.

This made me think of Banksy’s limited edition print of ‘Girl With Balloon’ that self-destructed by shredder immediately after someone had paid £1 million for it. The accident was believed to have made the ex-painting more valuable.

Next week, Tim Berners-Lee will auction an NFT (non-fungible token) of the code used to create the World Wide Web, no doubt for an equally eye-watering sum. If I understand correctly, an NFT is a record or confirmation of an original digital thing – a picture or a video.

The question is: would an NFT of my digital picture of a red wine painting with accidental drips of a garden that no longer exists have any value, or do you have to be famous first?

19 Replies to “Santa Rita Garden, Painting With Wine and Just Asking”

  1. That is very interesting. Wine is one of the most difficult stains to remove. It would make a good paint.

  2. It hurts my head! I read recently of another “eye-watering sum” that someone (sumone?) paid for an imagined work of art that was only in the artist’s head. So, yes, of course, an NFT of your digital picture of a red wine painting, etc., etc., would most surely fetch a price that would bring water to the eye. I am in awe of how this garden is adapted to dryness, but I think I wouldn’t daydream there. Unless I had a clear view of that sky and the agapanthus, which maybe in their own way bring water to the garden. Beautiful photos!

    1. I wonder whether the artist was duty bound to imagine something specific for a decent length if time and whether they are duty bound never to imagine the same painting again, as if the purchaser has reserved a blank spot in an artist’s mind. If not the artist would be having their cake and eating it in more ways than one.

      1. I can’t help laughing but at the same time I think all those conditions must apply. I also can’t help thinking there’s a blank spot in somebody’s mind!

  3. People can do what they want, but my personal opinion is that NFTs are the height of stupidity. However: I really enjoyed that painting. I have a friend who does water colors and likes good wine, so I’m forwarding this post to her to see if it might give her an idea or two for their next wine lovers’ meeting.

  4. Well this is all doing my head in a bit, Emperor’s new clothes and all that. BUT I do rather like the wine painting and the burnt-yellow steel feature walls. As for the arid, Mediterranean-style climate – in your dreams! It just seems to get wetter as far as I can tell.

  5. Hello, just found your blog in WordPress and had to comment…the wine painting is one of the coolest things I’ve seen! What an incredible idea, thank you for sharing it!

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