What it is about?

The quirky sculpture garden «Gnomengarten Schwarzenburg» in Switzerland has become widely known as a «Concreted Cabaret» with witty guided tours by its creator, the artist Jürg U. Ernst.

After 15 years Ernst decided last year to close this chapter of his life and the gate of his special garden for good. With an extravagant happening in summer 2016 a portion of his figures and also the biggest sculpture, the king of the garden «Pluto» will be destroyed by a digger. Reason enough to dedicate a documentary to the unique origins and dismantling of a life’s work.

Being the daughter of the artist I have intimately observed the evolution of the Gnomengarten for years and my father’s relationship to it. The dramatic destruction of the work which he has been creating for years with enormous perseverance is heartbreaking, but also incredibly provocative.

With this documentary I look forward to exploring my father’s artistic journey which is intertwined with the Gnomengarten’s relationship to the community of residents who live near the garden and countless others who have come to visit it. This film will explore broader themes of artistic life and birth, and the process of change and decay, all of which is reflected in my father’s realisation of the garden, the affect of his recently declining health on his ability to maintain it and the relationship of his journey to garden and its visitors.

Why a film?

Filming of the Gnomengarten has occurred throughout its remarkable life. Originally these recordings were intended to be a private record, but with the pending closure and destruction of the garden, this rare, intimate footage is now available and can help tell an important part of the garden’s story and my father’s journey in creating and destroying it.

An incredible amount of archive footage has accumulated over the years and this material documents the beginning of the sculpture garden and the different phases of Jürg Ernst’s artistic creativity, from the expansion and growth of the sculpture garden through to his decision to complete and destroy the project.

How your money will be used

The financial contributions through WEMAKEIT will help us edit the considerable quantity of archive footage and film the Gnomengarten’s last days. These funds will also help convey the mood and atmosphere of this special garden and make the film look and sound as good as possible as we enlist support from a trusted sound designer, composer and colourist.

With your financial help we will make a filmic portrait of an artistic personality who has an inexhaustible source of ideas, quirky humour and great creative power.

Many heartfelt thanks for your support!

The «Gnomengarten Schwarzenburg»

In the middle of the village Schwarzenburg Jürg Ernst, the ferroconcrete sculptor and former photographer, has leased 2000 a site adjacent to the home where he lives with his family. With iron and cement he started to create the quirky sculpture garden.

Over the years the Gnomengarten became an insider hotspot and later a public attraction for visitors from all over Switzerland. Today we find a dozen splashing and blinking sculptures up to seven meters high in the little garden area which has been built in the autumn and winter and cared for during the spring and summertime, when Jürg Ernst exchanges welding torch and concrete filler for grass and pruning shears.

One only has to see a few of the figures to understand the fantastical imaginings the garden and its inhabitants may have sparked in visitors over the years, stories which have no doubt developed alongside Jürg Ernst’s personally guided tours which have included wondrous tales and histories of each of the characters, including Madame Froidevaux with her top-heavy bird, the uncompleted Helvetia, the wellness-addicted Olaf, the Marsh-witch or guard Walter Harnisch, with his weak bladder, who keeps an eye on the monumental (and ascendable) king of the garden Pluto.

The Gnomengarten opened to the public for the last time during the summer of 2015. The dismantling of the garden will begin in July 2016.