Through the Looking Glass

Spot1015 Aqualens 1 Sm

Sculptor Allison Armour has received widespread media attention and praise for her unique brand of contemporary garden art, including this ethereal piece from a collection known as "Aqualens."

Based in both Santa Barbara, Calif., and London, her works are distinctive and unusual. Yet her Aqualens "fountains" are relatively simple in design and execution: an acrylic sphere that contains and overflows with water is surmounted atop a highly reflective stainless steel circular platform that is in turn located inside a stainless steel "contact lens" dish. The circulation system is completely self-contained and the pieces can be mounted on virtually any surface, natural or manmade.

The composition creates a hypnotic interplay of light, reflections and the ever-changing visual and aural nuances of gently flowing water. Although distinctly contemporary, Armour's spheres appear remarkably comfortable in spaces that range from traditional to modern, rural to urban, industrial to verdant and from the wildly opulent to the charmingly modest.

"They do work well in almost any setting," she says. "I believe that's because they're based on classic geometry and also the way the materials interact with and respond to the surroundings.

"Spheres are universal," she adds, "Every star and every planet is a sphere. It's a sacred shape that is part of nature and our cultures; they are part of who we are."

As for the role that water plays in her work, she says, "Water has such amazing qualities, the way it sparkles and reflects. And it changes with the setting, whether it's nighttime, early morning, windy or calm. It's like an old friend who's both familiar yet always changing, always there for you.

"In many gardens it's the one element that's missing. I love the fact that my pieces add water to the setting."

For more information about Allison Armour's work, visit

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