Bevis Bawa's Brief Gardens

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Just back from a winter week in sunny Sri Lanka and the country evokes so many images and happy memories, lush, lush greenery, an abundance of the graceful frangipani, spicy yummy food, lacey soft hoppers, the singsong Malayali accented local English, the magnificient Dambulla caves (that is another post) but one of the strongest and most lasting impressions of the country  for me is the architectural legacy of the Bawa brothers. Geoffrey Bawa is the famous architect with his buildings and hotels strewn all across the Srilankan map, and visiting his home and gardens was on my do-do list, but one chance and serendipitous trip to the Brief Garden which was his brother Bevis Bawa's home established that architectural and landscaping talent clearly was a family trait. The amount of whimsy and the sheer love for and evident knowledge of greenery, plants and trees and the artistry with which this expertise plays out across the gardens, the crafted shifts in space created hand in hand with nature, give a glimpse of a person who is not only flamboyant and quirky but also an innate artist completely at one with nature. Or it is not possible that 24 years after his death, his gardens still shine with such luminosity. 
WIKI & the person who showed us the property told us that Bawa employed 15 gardeners to help create and maintain his gardens. He also dabbled in art and sculpture. Bawa continued to develop the property until his death (aged 89 on 18 September 1992). He left his estate to his workers and Brief Gardens went to his head gardener Dooland De Silva. 

These stepped water body rising toward the home is the 1st sight of the home and formal Garden you will see after walking through a winding  road lush with the most robust foliage thick on either side. 

You enter the home into this broad patio that lets the outdoor in

The care taker spoke of an Australian artist, Donald Friend,  who came to stay in the Brief Garden for 6 days and stayed on for 6 years. He is credited with a lot of art that one sees in the Brief Gardens.
 At the far end of the patio is this wall with the embedded bottles forming a design-  Scroll to the next image to see the other side of the wall & how the bottles look.

 The bottles that were embedded into the wall open out into the back garden, where stands this quirky irreverent man ostensibly peeing into this mini pool.
"Romantic elements like water fountains, nightmarish gargoyles, and his sculptures with their strong sexual overtones combine effortlessly with the surrounding plant life, all with a punch of wit. One constantly encounters his sculptures, and other creations some of which have been given his own visage." Varna S Dhar

 The Japanese Moon Gate, that takes you to a back garden, with a path carefully embedded with raised stones imprinted with leaf shapes

 The very rare Bat Orchid was in full bloom when we went. 

The back of the home
 Opens into this lovely garden with its designed pool in the centre - notice the leaf imprinted concrete tiles

 The back garden further opens into this enclosed space, which holds a bath tub, open to the sky. This face could well be a take on the artist & owner Bevis Bawa's face.
 To the left is a concrete bench and this mirror embedded into the wall
 And to the right is this beauty.
The open and airy living room 
 Filled with books and art and sculpture.

 The huge dining table
And finally here, the unusually tall (6 ft 7" ) artist himself, Bevis Bawa.
We had briefed the driver to take us to Geoffrey Bawa's Lunuganga in Bentota, instead he took us to Bevis Bawa's Brief Gardens - it was a good one hour detour and some strange reviews on Trip Advisor almost persuaded us from seeing this beauty. But what a special space this turned out to be, Quirky, charming and magical. Full of charachter and delightful surprises. These pictures are not a patch on the place and I would recommend this strongly to every nature lover. 
Those interested in reading further about the Bawa Brothers, their lineage, life & times, click here

You Might Also Like


Popular Posts

Like us on Facebook

Flickr Images