On a cold day in Westminster it was a joy to stumble into an unexpected enchantment in Caxton Street, Westminster. The twiggy onion nests first caught the eye, followed by twin pyramids of onions towering from metal urns, all settled into a flowering spring garden of narcissi, hyacinths, primroses and snowdrops; this is the Danish Florist and landscape artist Jens Jacobsen’s new concept of “an everyday fairy-tale installation”.
Jacobsen calls this small terrace his “open air studio”which he’s always working on, it’s organic in matter and approach, it changes with the seasons but is never taken down. Jacobsen is inspired by flowers and nature, both a snowdrop and a rare rose can fill him with emotion but he also creates magnificent installations with potatoes and beetroots.The sprouting onions in these giant bird’s nests represent new life and reproduction.Jacobsen grew up in Denmark and had always dreamed of living in the mountains, fulfilling his dream he now has a second home in Bavaria and in London he is easily recognised by his habit of working in lederhosen, the traditional workwear of Germany.
Jacobsen is ultra-discreet about his projects and clients but he often works with the renowned couturier Ian Stuart; the fairy- tale garden is on the terrace outside Stuart’s flagship showroom. Stuart makes some of the most stylish and sumptuous wedding dresses in Europe and he is the subject of an upcoming Channel4 documentary series beginning in April named The Frock Shop.
The 25 episodes will offer a glimpse into the glamourous world of Stuart’s clientele, his famously flamboyant and expensive designs, with a peak into the sometimes emotional discussions and decisions that are made by celebrities and people when choosing special occasion wear. Filmed around the C18th “Blewcoat” showroom which is leased from the National Trust, the architecture might deserve have an episode to itself; Blewcoat is an elegant red brick townhouse that was built in 1709 as a school for poor boys and girls, whose uniform was a long blue coat. The building has since been used as a US military store during WWII and then a youth club for Girl Guides.
In 2014 Ian Stuart refurbished the interior in his inimitably luxurious style to compliment his gowns and provide suitably private space for clients. The programmes are being shown in the weeks running up to Britain’s latest royal wedding and promise to provide enthusiastic interest in the Blewcoat showroom and all the horticultural glory on the terrace.