Posted by: travelrat | December 5, 2011

The Angels at Mottisfont

Visitors to the gardens at Mottisfont Abbey, Hampshire are often captivated by the Mottisfont Angel. This beautiful mosaic stands half-hidden in a corner of the house wall, and was created by the Russian artist Boris Anrep. The angel was modelled on Maud Russell, the then owner of the house, and Anrep’s friend and patron and lover.

The National Trust, who now own the gardens, decided to make this the centrepiece of an outdoor exhibition themed on angels, called the Angel Garden, which opened on 2nd December 2011 and will run until 2nd January 2012.

I was invited to the opening of this exhibition by Andy and Michelle Rawlings, who were showing their sculpture Tarja the Light Bearer … I posted about her earlier, and called her ‘The Goddess’, because they hadn’t decided on a name for her them.

Tarja isn’t really an angel … she’s a fairy of Finnish legend, who carries the light through the darkest night of the year, to ensure that the sun will eventually rise again. But, she had enough angelic qualities to be included … and I welcomed the chance to photograph her in more pleasing surroundings.

The Watcher was a bit of a puzzler, till the artist explained that it represented an angel who had fallen to earth to look after us … and the dent was where he hit the ground! And, the stakes and the tape were part of the exhibit, not to prevent people from walking over it.

One sculpture was described as ‘a bit like Marmite; you either love it or you hate it.’ Lorraine didn’t like it; I didn’t dislike it, but felt that a garden wasn’t really the right setting for it. But, I shall say no more; have a look at my pictures, and see if you can guess which it is!

(Click on any picture in the gallery to start the carousel)

Ferric Messenger Nigel Williams (

The Mottisfont Angel Boris Anrep

Female Angel Jilly Sutton (

The Watcher Hywel Davies (

The Guarden Angel Olivia Keith (

Greer (Mottisfont Angel) Ed Elliott (

Tarja the Light Bearer Andrew & Michelle Rawlings (

Arc 1 Ian Campbell-Briggs (

Ensemble Kirsten Linning (

To find out more about Mottisfont Gardens, visit; click on ‘Events at this property’ for more detailed information.


  1. Hi Keith,
    I have to say out of all the lovely sculptures I like the wooden “man angel” the best, I love the way the wings are done, and he looks like he is bending over to help someone, very nice. 🙂

    • Everyone else liked that one, too!

      The artist explained that he was trying to portray the angel standing ready to go to the aid of anyone who needed him, which I thought he achieved very well.

      (I had the thought he was maybe waiting for the ‘Bat-signal?) 😀

      He was carved in 3 pieces from the wood of a plane tree, felled on the estate, hence his sub-title’ of ‘The Mottisfont Angel’ ‘

  2. Thank you so much for posting this. They are extraordinary works of art. I also like the ones where the angels are leaning over with their wings draped on the ground – there is something quite moving about them. Brilliant!

  3. The National Trust is one organisation that I am thankful for when in the UK. Love these photos.

    • Hi, John! Appreciate you stopping by!

      I do take exception to one or two aspects of the National Trust, but here, they got it exactly right, in a way that benefits everybody. That is, the public, for being given the opportunity to see some great art; the artists, for an opportunity to display their work and themselves, for a really clever way to attract the customers at a fairly slack time.

      I do think, though, that they could have done more to adverise the event. I only found about it by chance, and I hope I’ve done a little here to redress that.

  4. […] you haven’t already seen the picture, it’s at […]

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