Colorful, whimsical exhibit on display at Airlie Gardens

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Let your imagination run wild as you tour the grounds at Airlie Gardens.

A new exhibit, called Imagine, compliments the beautiful flowers, trees and wildlife at the park.

Artist Matthew Leavell designed the pieces, which are both whimsical and eclectic.

"When we saw his smaller scale pieces, we knew that he would be a good fit for an exhibit in a public garden," Janine Powell, from Airlie Gardens, said. "You have to have things that hold up to weather, hold up to a lot of visitors and able to work with a garden theme, so we knew he could meet all of those goals."

Leavell made the pieces from recycled and "upcycled" materials.

"For someone to be able to look at a spoon, a gear, a pick axe and make something like that is stunning to me," she said of the signature piece in the collection. "For his artistic process, he likes for it to evolve. He sent us some initial sketches and what we got exceeded our expectations even from those initial sketches."

Powell said some of the works are functional in the garden.

"I was super surprised by the bird houses," she said. "He built two. He calls them birdapalooza. They are not only gorgeous, they are functioning bird houses, so when we were installing them they were really ready to get to the bird seed we were filling them with."

Imagine is on display through the end of September.

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