One Year On – Catching up with Charlie Whinney – RHS Virtual Chelsea 2020

Every day this week – which just so happens to be RHS Chelsea Flower Show week! – we are looking back and catching up with the artisans who were housed in our garden buildings in Ranelagh gardens last year.

Virtual Chelsea is the 2020 edition of the 107-year old flower show, online for the first time because of the Covid-19 crisis.

What better way to relive the show’s highlights but through the experiences of some of the artisans from the cohort of 2019? We also couldn’t resist finding out what doors have been opened for them since exhibiting and where they see themselves in the future.

Charlie Whinney

When we asked Charlie to reflect on his time as a Chelsea Artisan, he replied:

“Chelsea seems like a distant phantasmagoric dream, so many colours and amazing and very polite and lovely people!

Natalie my Studio Manager jokingly said finally she had found her spiritual home (and lots of free champagne), and OMG the cheese canopies were honestly amazing!”

Show Highlights

Charlie says his main highlight was probably the other artisans in his part of the show:

“It was just really inspiring to share time and space with other people who care as much about what they do as me and also have totally different mind-blowing skills.”

Charlie still has a small portion of Corrie Bain’s unfired sculpture she made during the show and recently he found out that one of his best friends is friends with her…and they shared a car across France recently…A strange coincidence indeed and Charlie cheekily added, “I hope they talked about me!”

Charlie Whinney at Chelsea Flower Show 2019. Artisan Studio provided by Malvern Garden Buildings


So since Chelsea, Charlie has had a very busy summer. He was away teaching in America just after, in Indiana and then with clients in Pennsylvania and NYC which, he admits “was a brilliant experience although very nice to get home!”  Then back to work, Charlie had a few sculpture commissions and lots of teaching etc…

“At the moment we are working on a new sculptural garden shelter for the Wordsworth Trust here in the Lake District and another large commission for Harvey Nichols plus some other bits including a piece for Selfridges and fine art piece for the Garden Bower Sculpture Park in the US.”

Future Plans

“With lockdown it has been sort of lovely to pause.  Due to family commitments I have only had 1 day a week in the studio so the sculpture for Wordsworth Trust has, very slowly and lovingly been coming to shape. The time has been punctuated with maths lessons and starting a veg patch which may actually feed us!”

Charlie has also been finding time to write (so no nights in the workshop!). Another book is inching along, as is a poetry collection about work and the environment.


To find out more about Charlie, his process and his artwork, check out our interview with him from last year here.

Keep up to date with all things RHS Virtual Chelsea 2020 by clicking here.

View Charlie’s work on his website here.

Every day this week we’ll be releasing an update from the Chelsea artisans of 2019

Last but not least: Laura Jane Wylder

Read Laura’s interview on the run up to RHS Chelsea 2019 here

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