Gardener's humble refuge becomes a work of art

Monty Python's comical composer Arthur "Two Sheds" Jackson always felt the sheds got in the way of the art. But yesterday at the Victoria and Albert Museum the humble garden structure became the art.

Monty Python's comical composer Arthur "Two Sheds" Jackson always felt the sheds got in the way of the art. But yesterday at the Victoria and Albert Museum the humble garden structure became the art.

The Other Flower Show, a new exhibition of 10 garden sheds adapted by some of Britain's leading artists, including Tracey Emin, went on display in the garden of the museum.

Emin's Something for the Children, which has echoes of her Whitstable beach hut destroyed this week by a fire at a London warehouse, re-creates part of the stage set she designed for a production of Jean Cocteau's Les Parents Terribles.

The tense study of a children's Wendy house is set within the confines of a bright red and turquoise shed. Patchwork curtains adorn the windows and the walls carry her trademark personal ephemera, including a 1995 sketch of a woman having an abortion. At the centre of the piece, placed on a Ouija board surrounded by children's chairs, gleams a large kitchen knife. The work, according to the exhibition notes, symbolises "desire, love, jealousy and hate".

The former pop stars Martyn Ware of Heaven 17 and Vince Clarke of Erasure, who now go under the name The Illustrious Company, contributed a "3-D" sound sculpture. Town and Country is a tranquil 14-and-a-half-minute sound loop recorded around Britain, interrupted by the cacophony of "urban disaster". The Leeds-based artist Sarah Staton riddled her shed with peepholes and called it Swiss Cheese Shed, while Heather Barnett has created a living room with edible mustard and cress wallpaper and a turf floor watered from the glass roof. Its progress is captured on a webcam and broadcast on the V&A's website. The stilted "fairy-tale chill out den" by Dutch-born Tord Boontje, entitled Summer Lovin', includes a film of the artist's daughter playing in Greenwich park.

Other exhibits include Fat's Drip Shack, inspired by the English summer, in which water cascades into various waiting receptacles. There is also Graham Fagen's Blood Shed, in which symbols of the Caribbean compete with reminders of the artist's Scottish homeland - set under a blood-red map ofthe former British Empire.

One of the most intriguing exhibits is by Nilu Izadi, who turns her shed into a camera obscura, where the viewer can gaze skywards into the light from the cloistered darkness of the shed. German artist Andreas Oehlert employs digital technology to create a Museum Of Flowers

One of the exhibition curators, Susan McCormack, said the artists were offered the £800 sheds by the company Finnforest 18 months ago as "blank canvases". The theme was nature and the garden. Ms McCormack, who is head of the museum's contemporary programme, said: "We are breaking down the barriers of blokishness and sheds... everyone has a shed story."

The artists have spent the past three weeks completing their designs, which will be auctioned in six weeks' time by Christie's, proceeds going to the museum.

* The Other Flower Show runs until 11 July. Free entry.

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