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Review – Nick Knight: Roses From My Garden

Nick Knight's new exhibition at Waddesdon Manor is an absolute blooming triumph, says Muddy's Kerry Yates. Check out her review here, and go go go.

We’re all getting a bit miffed with this semi-lockdown, semi-living malarkey now, aren’t we? So right now there is an undeniable comfort in beauty and familiarity, both of which can be found at the latest exhibition at Waddesdon Manor – Nick Knight: Roses From My Garden.

I’m fond of roses and frankly fanatical about Waddesdon Manor so it wasn’t a hardship being sent to review the exhibition, which is being held at The Stables Courtyard (down the steep incline from the main house, which, FYI, is currently closed due to COVID 19 restrictions). But the grounds are open and visitors are evidently still keen to breathe in the elegant surrounds and parkland. I smugly pre-booked tickets for the visitors’ bus up to the grounds for me and my 13-year-old daughter, Amber, but I saw that many chose to walk the mile-long route. And why not? It’s a gentle enough climb and doesn’t require a mask.

You will need to don a face covering for the exhibition though and, obviously, keep your distance but that doesn’t detract in anyway from the experience. The Stables are cool and tranquil, giving a restful backdrop to the stunning six by nine feet prints of tumbling roses. Frilly and whimsical, dark and moody, it’s hard to believe these gorgeous, evocative images – all of which could easily be mistaken for a 17th-century Dutch still life – were taken on an iPhone. But they were. They truly were.

You’ll be familiar with Nick Knight because of his fashion work (Jil Sander, Alexander McQueen, Tom Ford) and his creative direction on music videos (Lady Gaga’s Born This Way) and his incredible shoots for Vogue, i-D and the like, but this exhibition is a far simpler proposition. Over the past five years, on his Saturdays off, Nick has picked roses from his garden (as the title suggests) and captured them with nothing more than his trusty phone and the light from his kitchen skylight. And the results are breathtaking.

So stunning are the pictures, you would be forgiven for thinking that there was more trickery involved. However, the five-minute video at the end puts all doubts to rest. It explains how Nick went about the whole process, showing the intricate arrangement of  flowers and how he added layers of focus and then there’s the time-consuming retouching and careful selection of Instagram filter. If I could only use an iPhone like that, my selfies would take on a Kardashian level of polish.

Asked to pick her favourite, Amber chose the most feminine and delicate pink roses print. It was a beauty.  Asked why? She said, “It’s just cool.”  Trust me, this is a positively gushing response in teen speak, so I’m confident in saying this exhibition is a great way to get the Instagram generation to appreciate masterful photography. Plus don’t forget if you’ve worked up an appetite with the exhibition, you’re about 40 metres away from a cream tea afterwards. Well, it wouldn’t be Waddesdon without one, would it?

Nick Knight: Roses From My Garden is showing at The Stables Courtyard, Waddesdon Manor, until 25th October 2020, 11am to 5pm. Normal grounds entry fee applies. Booking essential.

Words: Kerry Yates

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