Today I am trundling through the West country by train to visit a sculpture park in a beautiful part of the English countryside - Dorset - made famous by the likes of 19th Century novelists Hardy and Austen. Sculptor, Simon Gudgeon and his wife, garden designer, Monique have created a stunning outdoor sculpture gallery called Sculpture by the Lakes on a huge scale through landscaping, garden design and acres of waterways. It is the combined talent of this partnership that has created an idyllic park in which you can view Simon's kinetic, abstract and figurative bronze sculptures to maximum effect - miles away from any sterile white-walled gallery. Every installation is a collaboration between this husband and wife duo carefully placing each piece into the surrounding landscape, creating spectacular vistas planted to maximum effect. This led me to muse on the power of collaborations whether it be sparked through the juxtaposition of nature and the man-made or just simply by putting two heads together to produce something new and startling.
This month's W magazine, my chosen read for the journey, is full of articles on what it pens as 'creative collaborations' particularly between the art and fashion world, leading with an interesting editor 's letter on the Venice Biennale. I love how a creative mind applied to a tried and tested product can develop into something astonishing and new. Take for example David Linley's design studio and passion for marquetry, Brintons long-established carpet factory in the Midlands and the Burlington Arcade's appeal to a wealth of international visitors. By combining forces this trio have produced a homage to the breathtaking elements of the world's skyline complete with a nod to British humour. Over 90 buildings from across the world merge together to create a homogenous global skyline with Big Ben and Pearl TV Tower jostling for position alongside Christ Redeemer and The Forbidden City. It is exquisitely designed to scale, a great test of architectural knowledge and makes every nation feel at home. Observant visitors may even spot Mary Poppins, King Kong and Quasimodo nestling among the towers.
It seems everyone is at it from old master picture dealer Philip Mould and contemporary designer Ben Penreath partnering to create a Christmas project to Aston Martin commissioning artist James Hart Dyke to create a series of paintings to celebrate 007's favourite car manufacturer. In my own small way, I too sought inspiration through a partnership. At the bottom of my dressing table drawer splendid, but redundant and sometimes quite valuable beads and jewels languished forgotten and in disrepair. So I visited the fabulous Marylebone jewellery designers Kohatu + Petros and together we re-designed, refreshed and created over six new pieces -a necklace and bracelet combination I happily am wearing now. Collaboration is key.