12 August 2008

Green Thumbs

I'd be lying if I said I gave even a passing thought to the state of our grounds at home during our time away. So it was without an ounce of guilt that I read a feature on great gardens of the (Western European) world in the August issue of Cathay Pacific's in-flight Discovery magazine on the way home last week.

Most impressive is the 17th century HET LOO gardens in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands established by soon-to-be Scottish and English King, William of Orange, also known as (Bonny?) King Billy (There is a statue of Billy HERE, outside Kensington Palace with a brilliant shadow, and an equestrian statue HERE, in Queen Square, Bristol). Apparently, gardens of this era, also including Versailles, are characterised by their rigid geometry and intricate embroidered designs, imposing and orderly experience of nature. A more freeform approach came about with the optimism of the 18th century leading to the splashy deployment of flowers in STROLLING GARDENS of the 19th century that offered a backdrop for the promenading of the new bourgeoisie. Now we have contemporary gardens such as Alnwick Garden in NORTHUMBERLAND and restored sites, such as the MOORISH GARDENS of the Genaralife in the Alhambra, which have become major tourist destinations.

These intricate, horizontal configuarations seem ideal for viewing from above so it is intriguing to consider, back in the days before airtravel, exactly who they were designed for. Presumably, the privileged viewers were residing up in the castle.

Bringing this horticultural digression back on topic to the business of art (ahem), also featuring in the Discovery article are the Giverny gardens of one Claude Monet. This is where he cultivated fields of colour especially for painting, and later developed a watergarden, inspired by Japanese prints, where he created lily ponds. Bearing in mind this construction and controlling of nature specifically for use as art, I'm tempted to argue for Monet as the forefather of Land Art. Unfortunately, there are no impressionist fields of colour to be found HERE and a quick scout around nearby fields doesn't reveal any haystacks, but I will add these to my list of things to look out for.

Image: Claude Monet - Bassin aux Nympheas Harmonie Rose mug, from cafepress

No comments:


Art from Space is an exploration of art-related phenomena that manifests in interesting ways on Google’s aerial maps. It is also an experiment in curatorial practice; collecting, presenting and contextualising items in ways that users can explore, free of curator-imposed framing and sequencing. This blog is Art from Space’s developmental musings made public, where items are introduced to the project in real time, rather than awaiting the grand unveiling of a completed exhibition. Specific locations of interest are highlighted in CAPS and linked to a map for further exploration. Visit the mother ship HERE.