Monthly Archives: May 2012

What is the style of contemporary garden design and landscape architecture?

Andy Sturgeon M&G Garden Chelsea 2012

Andy Sturgeon's M&G Garden Chelsea 2012

The M&G Garden, designed by Andy Sturgeon, would have received the Gardenvisit Award for ‘Best in Show‘, but for the designer’s crackpot explanation. Here is the Telegraph’s account of what he said: ‘The M&G Garden’ 2012, a ‘New English’ garden harking back to the Arts and Crafts movement, but with a modern-day twist. Featuring monolithic blocks of stone, a 98ft free-form ‘energy wave’ sculpture and a mix of formal, asymmetrical designs and informal cottage-garden planting, the garden truly reflects the values of M&G.’
Artists have been much better at naming styles and Wiki gives the following for the contemporary period:
Contemporary art – present
Toyism 1992 – present
Digital art 1990 – present
Postmodern art – present
Modernism – present
New realism 1960 –
Performance art – 1960s –
Fluxus – early 1960s – late-1970s
Conceptual art – 1960s –
Graffiti 1960s-
Junk art (adde) 1960s –
Psychedelic art early 1960s –
Lyrical Abstraction mid-1960s –
Process art mid-1960s – 1970s
Arte Povera 1967 –
Photorealism – Late 1960s – early 1970s
Land art – late-1960s – early 1970s
Post-minimalism late-1960s – 1970s
Installation art – 1970s –
Mail art – 1970s –
Neo-expressionism late 1970s –
Metarealism – 1970 -1980, Russia
Figuration Libre early 1980s
Metaphorical realism
Young British Artists 1988 –
Rectoversion 1991 –
Transgressive art
Synaesthesia events
Neoism 1979
Battle Elephants 1984
Massurrealism 1992 –
Stuckism 1999 –
Remodernism 1999 –
ArT is free 2010-
Would any of these fit Andy Sturgeon’s garden? Well ‘postmodern’ certainly would. Readers are invited to suggest classifications.
‘Classifying Andy’ is part of a wider problem: are garden designers and landscape architects totally lacking style?

Garden of Disorientation: design for the 2012 Chelsea Fringe Festival

‘Smithfield is renowned for the ghostly late-night movement of animal carcasses and more recently for the early-morning traffic of displaced revelers. Adding to the mix is this new internal garden space, the Garden of Disorientation’. I went to visit the garden on a really hot day in the course of a long cycle ride to visit other Chelsea Fringe projects. Suffering from heat disorientation, I found this intriguing space blessed me with orientation, as did a delicious drink. Deborah Nagan, of naganJohnson, designed the Garden of Disorientation for the 2012 Chelsea Fringe. The Garden of Disorientation is at 59 Charterhouse Street, Smithfield, London, EC1M from 19th May to 10 June 2012. Deborah is a graduate of the MA Landscape Architecture at the University of Greenwich. The Modern Garden Company was the main sponsor and supplied the excellent garden furniture: it is tough, stylish and street-worthy.
There are lots of reasons for wishing the Chelsea Fringe every success: it makes London an even more exciting city; it confirms London’s role as the world’s garden capital; it creates opportunities for landscape architects to show what wonderful things they can do for the city; it lets sponsors do really good things with their marketing budgets. We have many helpful suggestions!
So COME ON EVERYONE: the Chelsea Fringe has 100 projects in 2012: LETS MAKE IT 1000 PROJECTS IN 2013. Anyone unlucky enough not to be in London from 19th May to 10th June 2012 can do the London Gardens Walk. It is open on every day of every year.

London Gardens Walk eBook: a free gift for readers & the Chelsea Fringe Festival

London Historic Gardens Walk eBook

London Historic Gardens Walk eBook

To celebrate the start of the first Chelsea Fringe Garden Festival, is giving away free copies of the London Gardens Walk eBook during the weekend of  19th to 20th May.  It is in Kindle format and can be downloaded from any Amazon website. If you don’t have an eReader you can download an app for your Mac or PC from the Amazon site. Comments, or, better, reviews on the Amazon website will be welcome.  There is also a version of the gardens walking map on Googlemaps. It aims to walk you through about 5000 years of garden history by seeing London gardens and parks and objects in the British Museum. Does the world have another city with so much garden history on view?

Download London Gardens Walk eBook from Amazon UK


The Buddhist cave at Phuktal Gompa (Phugtal Monastery)

Phuktal Gompa Buddhist Cave

Phuktal Gompa Buddhist Cave

The great cave of Phuktal Gompa in Ladakh has a sacred spring within. The monastery is said to have been built here because there was a forest on the slopes above, from which a lone tree survives. The cave is supposed to house the spirit of the first guru, Rimpoche.
Caves have a special place in Buddhism, because wandering monks used them for prayer, meditation and rest, and Ngawang Tsering (1717-94) wrote that: ‘Nurtured as sons of mountain solitude they dressed in clouds and mist and wore as hats deserted caves. Totally unconcerned with the world’s ways and mundane happiness they contemplated impermanence to create a sense of urgency and thus to make the best use of their life time. Meditation on the ominpresence of death served as a pillow and they wrapped themselves up in the cloth of mindfulness of karma. The mats which they spread were their awareness of the disadvantages of samsara which they likened to a whirlpool or a tapering flame. I sing my songs to induce kings to rule with the ten virtues, for the sake of the lowly so that each according to his capacity may rejoice in the Dharma, for the sake of the teachers pointing them to tantras, sutras and teachings, for the sake of earnest meditators that they may realise equanimity and insight, for the sake of the yogins with clear perception that they may be endowed with supreme vision action and function’
Image courtesy Kateharris