Here is the text of the above video reviews of Paul Cummins and Tom Piper’s Blood-swept lands and seas of red, where angels fear to tread.
The poppy installation at the Tower of London is by Paul Cummins, a ceramic artist, with help from Tom Piper, a stage designer. Its name comes from a Derbyshire man who died in Flanders. He wrote of The blood-swept lands and seas of red, where angels fear to tread. There are eight hundred and eight-eight thousand two hundred and forty six poppies: for each British and Colonial death in the First World War.
The Prime Minister, David Cameron, told the House of Commons it was a stunning display, and extremely poignant.
The Washington Post described the installation as ‘a must-see on the tourist trail.
CNN John McCrae’s famous poem, which launched the poppy metaphor: In Flanders fields the poppies blow, Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place.
The Professor of the History of War at King’s College, observed that : Since the war is still generally misunderstood, such popular interest is encouraging, and the more people who have an opportunity to visit the poppies the better.
The Mayor of London called for the installation to be kept in place a bit longer. A spokesperson from the Historic Royal Palaces responded that The transience of the installation is key to the artistic concept, with the dispersal of the poppies into hundreds of thousands of homes marking the final phase of this evolving installation’.
The actress, Sheila Hancock, suggested that the poppies should be mown down by a tank to commemorate the horror of war.
Jonathan Jones, an art critic with The Guardian, also wanted more horror. He argued that In spite of the mention of blood in its title, this is a deeply aestheticised, prettified and toothless war memorial,
Robert Hardman, for the Daily Mail, responded by calling him a Sneering Left-wing art critic.
So what do I think? Well, as an art installation, it’s hard to fault. As a war memorial, one might think it lacks pathos. But the 1-for-1 symbolism and the fact that the poppies are frozen in time save it from being floral bedding.
For pure pathos a moat-filling tank of red liquid, inspired by Richard Wilson’s installation at the Saatchi Gallery, would have been more telling – and could have evolved into the water-filled moat the Tower needs. But I doubt if this would have raised any money for soldiers’ charities – as the poppies most certainly have done.
The above images are from Wikipedia. It has many images which show the sculpture looking good (eg right above) and very few showing it as most people see it from the road (eg left above). From the road is how I normally see it and my usual thought is ‘he should have made it higher’. But with the explanation I heard today I am not so sure. Were it higher, the sculpture would say more about ‘opportunities’ and less about ‘dangers’. Ambiguity is its own message – between the spirituality of an angel and the tragedy of a plane crash or a dying steel industry in the north of England.
– the conical hills look good, shield the park from traffic noise, provide destinations for walkers and runners and offer fine views over London. They were made out of rubble from demolishing the old Wembley Stadium. That’s good too – but I wish they had salvaged some features instead of reducing everything to rubble.
– the water park to the south of the hills is an attractive place with ponds, trees, shrubs and wild life
The landscape design was by FoRM Associates, a London practice which was run by Igor Marko, Peter Fink and Rick Rowbotham (the firm operated from 2007-2012). The founders were an artist, an architect and a landscape architect but the latter is not credited with the project: it was regarded as public art.
My visit was a deviation from the route of London’s Capital Ring, which I have been following. It links a number of greenspaces of varying quality. I suppose I could set up a system to assess their quality and, if doing so, would remember the four lunches I have enjoyed in a four day trip. Each time I asked for a ‘bacon roll and cappucino’. Much the best was in a cafe near Eltham College – maybe the boys have trained them. The cost was £3.70. Next best was from a caravan in Richmond Park: £5.20 – good coffee and a very well cooked bacon roll for £5.20. Next best was from a cafe outside Harrow School: £7.20 for a decent coffee with a disappointing bacon sandwich. Worst quality was from a transport cafe beside Streatham Common: £2.70 for flabby white bread and tough bacon. ‘This is not coffee’ I complained after the first sip ‘Yeah – we don’t do coffee’ they told me. The compensation was free newspapers to read (Sun and Star only). Price is the easiest thing to assess but does not correlate with gastronomic quality (for which my assessment criteria were: quality of coffee, quality of bread and quality of bacon. Price does however correlate exactly with quality of service. The most expensive provider also had the best interior design, though it was very traditional. The seating area around the caravan in Richmond Park was a total disgrace ‘wood effect picnic seating made of solid plastic’. So is it true that ‘you get what you pay for’? No: if you want a coffee and bacon sandwich the best buy cost £3.70. The same is true of public open space: the largest budget does NOT produce the best design. Much better to deploy imagination, ingenuity and wisdom.
I once worked in the garden of the David Wynne, who made this fountain – and am glad that his client was not the Caliph El Madhi
What a beautiful fountain, with the silver dolphin and the naked boy!.A Greek of Constantinople made it, who came travelling hither in the days of my father, the Caliph El Madhi (may earth be gentle to his body and Paradise refreshing to his soul!). He showed this fountain to my father, who was exceptionally pleased, and asked the Greek if he could make more as fine. “A hundred,” replied the delighted infidel. Whereupon my father cried, “Impale the pig.” Which having been done, this fountain remains the loveliest in the world.
The fountain delighted David Wynne’s clients and, I guess, it pleases most visitors to Tower Bridge in London. My advice to those who commission public art is: beware of abstract art. They should think in terms of cultural strata. However much the the organizer of a disco may adore Karlheinz Stockhausen, it would not be a popular choice for the playlist.
Since the minimalist squares of the 9/11 memorial are Platonic Forms, they seem closer to God than to Man. Plato’s forms were the universal perfect shapes which must exist before any particular forms can exist on earth. Does their use in a sunk space indicate that the victims of the 9/11 atrocity are destined for a perfect world? Or are they symbols that Death, Revenge and Destruction may also be Platonic Forms which shape the world? If the squares were simply the outlines of the Twin Towers they could be historical traces, like the outline of the old fortress on the Place de la Bastille in Paris. Repetition of the square motif with the pools makes them Platonic forms in my eyes.
Judging only from the photographs, I think the 9/11 Memorial is very beautiful and very moving. Its sustainability credentials are also admirable. But should it be a memorial to human folly, not to the essential eternal wonder of the creation. The pile of rubble on the right-hand photograph would have been a good aid to remembering the tragedy. If it was too dangerous and too big then it could have been 3D-scanned and cast it in steel salvaged from the ruins, at a reduced scale.
There are always other ways of looking at memorials. The 9/11 attack was a disaster from every point of view, injuring both the cause of the attackers and the cause of the attacked. My view is that the Americans should have behaved like a Christian nation and, with the greatest heroism, turned the other cheek. This would have made an immense contribution to the Christian virtues of purity, forbearance, ethical conduct and the rule of law. So I recommend the following interpretation of the 9/11 Memorial: it is a symbol of the lofty idealism for which everyone admires America at its best. It tells us how the nation should have responded to the 9/11 attack. A peaceful response might have dealt a crushing blow to terrorism everywhere, showing that sacrifice purifies the victim and vilifies the perpetrators. This would remind us that the War on Terror was a misconceived and badly executed blunder. So the deep truth in the 9/11 Memorial would be ‘Forgive us, O Lord, for we knew not what were about to do’.
So my suggestion is to place Gadaffi’s Golden Fist American Jet Statue in a garden, to show it is harmless, and to treat it as a rejected toy viewed by frightened children. They would be adult-size plastic scultpures, to symbolise the fact that dictators are plastic-ey overgrown kids. Other ideas welcome.
Garden image courtesy susan402
The stained glass windows of Josef Albers (1920-33) demonstrate the remarkable advances that were made in glass art in the period between 1885 (with the Tiffany glass Company) and 1933 (with students from the Bauhaus), and the increasing links between emerging art movements and gardens (hinted at by Filoli ).
Art Nouveau began a remarkable period in the history of art, when designers inspired by nature and natural forms, began a creative transformation which would lead to the pure abstraction of Modernism, perhaps most typified in the work of Gustav Klimt.
Louis Comfort Tiffany, was the third generation of successful American entrepreneurs. His father founded the jewelry company, Tiffany & Co, while his grandfather had been a leading cloth manufacturer.
Contemplation has been defined as thoughtful or long consideration or observation. In the East, Christian contemplation has been associated with spiritual transformation. “The process of changing from the old man of sin into the new born child of God and into our true nature as good and divine is called theosis.” The process has often been described by the metaphor of a ladder, with the acquisition of the state of hesychia or peace of the soul being the summit where the person is said to reach ‘Heaven on Earth’.
Perhaps the purpose of a public contemplative space might be to give visitor glimpses of ‘Heaven on Earth’? What might such a space look and sound like?
With the creditable exception of Burle Marx, and perhaps James Corner, landscape architects have been slow in responding to Suprematicism. Kasimir Malevich used this term as an alternative to Non-objective Art, which is itself an alternative to the more common Abstract Art. Malevich was thinking of its supremacy over previous art movements. Part of Malevich’s inspiration, like Corner’s, was from aerial photography: he abstracted patterns from landscapes. His suprematist ‘grammar’ was based on the elemental geometric forms, particularly the square and the circle. In the Eastern Orthodox tradition the holy family were believed to have a presence in icons. Comparably, a square is a square: it is not a picture of a square. This gives non-objective art a supremacy over representational (objective) art. Landscape architecture shares this type of supremacy over landscape painting: it is about making real places, not pictures of places. But landscape architects should also be fine artists in the sense of expressing truths about the nature of the world. Green-on-Green abstracts a truth about humanity’s relationship with the natural world: the works of man are always part of nature and always distinguishable from nature. We can guess that the term Abstract Art did not appeal to Malevich because of its use to mean ‘abstracted from the external world’. Malevich believed that art is spiritual. One can however, imagine that Malevich would have been happy to describe the ‘other’ type as Concrete Art, using concrete in the logician’s sense as an opposite to abstract.
Lumenhaus inspired by Mies Van der Rohe’s Fansworth House is described by Virginia Tech students as responsive architecture. Responsive architecture according to Nicholas Negroponte’s definition is “a class of architecture or building that demonstrates an ability to alter its form, to continually reflect the environmental conditions which surround it.”
The aim of Lumenhaus designers was to “maximise user comfort with environmental protection” to make the user’s life “simpler, more energy efficient and less expensive.” They say the goal was to balance design quality, resource conservation and energy efficiency to produce architecture which achieves “beautiful enduring sustainability.”
One of the most significant benefits of the Lumenhaus construction concept is that it is off-grid (with options for feeding energy to the grid where appropriate), prefabricated and transportable making it an ideal solution for remote housing (increasing production standards, optimizing costs and providing improved accessibility to remote locations), temporary housing (mining and student communities) and emergency housing (after natural disasters).
Landscape architects could contribute significantly to the concept by, among other strategies, incorporating green wall technology on the wall cladding and designing a compatible site responsive green roof space beneath a solar panel shaded umbrella roof.
As we await two expected tropical cyclones in North Queensland the following questions have a particular poignancy. What is the solution to coast inundation? Are there ways in which we can get used to getting wet and enjoy it as part of the experience – akin to playing in the surf?
While the Israeli port project may not offer the solution to the landfall of tropical cyclones, it might inspire ways to accommodate a slightly less defined and changeable boundary between the sea and land.
Mayslits Kassif Architects urban regeneration of the Tel Aviv Port is a landmark project which saw “the suspension of all the area’s rezoning plans” and set a precedent for “transformation not propelled by building rights, but by a unique urban design strategy.” The project received the 2010 Rosa Barba European Landscape Prize.
The Tirta (Holy Water) gangga (Ganges) water gardens in Bali are composed of three main elements: water, sculpture and gardens. They were originally built by the
late King of the Karangasem in 1948. However in 1963 with the eruption of the volcano Gunung Agung much of the palace was destroyed leaving only the bathing pools. The garden is said to be designed in a mixture of Balinese, European and Chinese styles and have undergone reconstruction.
The mirror art left is by Russian artist Francisco Infante-Arana who formed the Russian movement group in 1964. His simple gestures, while a subtle visual disruption to nature, reflects back to the viewer the essence of the invisible beauty which is accentuated in the visual perception of the artist when he contemplates nature.
Modern definitions of Western beauty have been given as ‘the unification of variety’, ‘the sensual manifestation of the idea’, ‘freedom in appearance’ and ‘the infinite expressed in the form of the finite.’ For Onishi, modern Western aesthetics in founded on the congruence of opposites (coincidenta oppositorum.) See ‘A History of Modern Japanese Aesthetics.’ ed Michael Marra 2001.
Lewis Mumford, in his introduction to Ian McHarg‘s Design with Nature, wrote that ‘It is in this mixture of scientific insight and constructive environmental design, that this book makes its unique contribution’. It was a perceptive remark and I would like to pay a similar comment to the books which Herbert Dreiseitl has published with the title Waterscapes: Herbert Dreiseitl combines scientific insight with an ethical concern for sustainability and an enthusiasm for artistic creation. See Herbert Dreiseitl biography & cv. Waterscapes is already on our list of 100 best books on landscape architecture and in 2009 Dreiseitl published Recent Waterscapes.
Dreiseitl has the scientific insight to understand the water cycle and the negative impacts upon it from poorly conceived urbanisation. He also practices constructive environmental design and he makes a unique contribution. Landscape architecture would be a far stronger profession if more designers were able, simultaneously, to make the world more sustainable and more beautiful. But is it art? and, indeed, What is art? Leo Tolstoy asked this question and, in the Wiki summary: ‘According to Tolstoy, art must create a specific emotional link between artist and audience, one that “infects” the viewer.’ The Wiki entry on Art, begins as follows: ‘Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging symbolic elements in a way that influences and affects the senses, emotions, and/or intellect. It encompasses a diverse range of human activities, creations, and modes of expression, including music, literature, film, photography, sculpture, and paintings.’ I think Dreiseitl passes these tests but I also remember Tracey Emin‘s declaration that one of her works was art ‘because I say it is art’. Dreiseitl could pass this test – and I think he should have a go at it, with a better explanation than Emin. He could say that he has analysed the nature of the world’s watery aspect and found a way of expressing his view in a 3-dimensional and visually dramatic way which depends upon the exercise of hard-won skills. His water sculptures are made in a studio at a 1:1 scale and then cut in granite. Similarly, Rodin worked in clay and had his sculptures cut in marble or cast in bronze. Rodin’s interest was sex; Drieseitl’s is also concerned with the future of life on earth. But my account of his work will not do: Dreiseitl needs to pen an account of ‘why I am an artist’ – and he should exhibit sculptural work in galleries so that it appears in catalogues and passes the commercial test for a work of art.
My favourite projects from Herbert Dreiseitl’s Recent Waterscapes, from left to right, below are:
The Nuremberg Prisma, Hannoversch Munden, Town Square in Gummersbach, Tanner Springs Park in Portland,
There is one problem with Dreiseitl’s projects: the vegetation is often managed on a habitat-creation basis and this tends to look ragged in the early years. In the fullness of time, they may well become beautiful semi-natural habitats. But one wonders if there is a way of making them more beautiful in the early years. The example below is a rainwater retention scheme on the Kronsberg in Hanover, Germany.
A interesting garden typology which seems to be given more attention in recent times is the museum garden, such as the garden at Giverny ‘The Museum of Impressions’. The garden museum was conceived to give visitors an experience of the Seine valley on the impressionists trail and to complement the art gallery experience of viewing impressionist paintings. The museum building is described as “topped by roofs landscaped in heather…inscribed into the natural slope of the land, allowing the minimum of opague walls.”
Perhaps an even more interesting possibility with this trend is the potential for the museum-in-the-garden. The museum of life and science in North Carolina demonstrates the potential of the museum outdoors.
Where better to experience and learn about art, physics and the natural world?
Whatever happened to beauty?
Modern art turned the viewer’s gaze inward to the inner world rather than outward to the external world. In doing so, modern artists prefiguring existential and phenomenological accounts of perception highlighting that art is not only seen, it is experienced.
In this first post of a series, with thanks to Tom for his comments and suggestions, I shall explore the work and artistic legacy of the Futurists.
At the turn of the twentieth century a young ecletic group of artists in a hurry collaborated under the banner of Futurism. The Futurists in particular grappled with the role of perception in artmarking.
They were concerned to portray the world as it is experienced and viewed, and perhaps more importantly as it could be, through a richer perceptual lens free of the constraints of the academie which had become ossified and rule bound.
The Futurists in their abstractions were concerned with expressing the emotional state of the artist rather than depicting nature. This interest in the emotional state of the artist/observer of life arose from in part from the sculpturer Boccioni insistence on the work of art as an essential manifestation of reality, an aspect of sensation, rather than as an activity of the spirit.
It is thought that the philosophy of Bergson was an important influence on the Futurists. Berguson espoused two types of knowledge objective and subjective. Objective knowledge is “conceptual knowledge directed towards the requirements of our practical life and lending itself to the analytical procedures of the natural sciences” while subjective knowledge “is a projection of our intimate self-awareness onto the external world.” Berguson termed this intuition.
Boccioni attempted to describe the proces of intuition the ‘terrible tension’ as he experienced it:
“the artist seeks to maintain himself continuously ‘in the inside of the object, to live its changeability and to grasp its unity.”
See article by Brian Petrie, ‘Boccioni and Bergson’. The Burlington Magazine Vol 116, No 852, Modern Art 1908-25) pp140147.
It is possible to unpick this concern of the Futurists with close attention to the disappearance of beauty from the discourse of aesthetics. Arthur Coleman Danto in ‘The Abuse of Beauty’ believes beauty lost its descriptive power with the early Logical Positivists. Instead the word came to stand for an expression of overall admiration. He says:
“Beyond what could be dismissed as ‘its emotive meaning’, the idea of beauty appeared to be cognitively void – and that in part accounted for the vacuity of aesthetics as a discipline, which had banked so heavily on beauty as its central concept.”
The Futurists in grappling with these concepts enriched our understanding both of artmaking and visual perception.
Congratulations to Stefano MARINAZ, Francesca VACIRCA and Daniela TONEGATTI for having their garden built at the 2010 Chaumont sur Loire Garden Design Festival in France. The three Italian designers met when studying on the masters programme in landscape architecture at the University of Greenwich.
The garden design concept for Hortitherapie sensorielle was to create a place where plants restore balance and harmony to the visitor’s body and mind. A sculpture of a resting woman (above centre, and below) draws visitors into the first garden compartment. She relaxes among the plants, calmed by a wavy line of bamboo canes. Another compartment has a sauna garden releasing fragrance and wrapping visitors a misty scent, delivering well-being. The potager compartment reminds visitors of the plants which produce kitchen aromas. It is a biodynamic vegetable garden. These plants can also be planted among vegetables to attract pollinating insects and deter predatory insects. The massage garden guides visitors through plants with different textures and scents. They massage the visitors’ legs and soothe their spirits. The perfume garden shows the beneficial oils and elixirs which have been extracted from herbs for centuries. They are in colourful jars. As Oscar Wilde remarked: “Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul”.
Landscape and garden designers should pay more attention to design competitions: successes in this field is one of the most reliable and most rewarding avenues to professional success.
The Forest of Dean certainly makes you wonder what the Garden of Eden looked like before Adam set about tending it. What elements would it have possessed? And once Adam got to work, I wonder what he would have done to keep the Garden of Eden the way God wanted it to be?
Did the Garden of Eden have animals within it? Perhaps Adam was vegetarian? Was Eve, as Adam’s helpmate, also a keen gardener? In 2004 the Tate gallery explored some of the themes and artistic representations of Eden through the history of art to contemporary times. The Glue Society using google earth produced their version of Eden in 2007. Of course, Adam and Eve need not live in a garden anymore – as they can stay in a luxury hotel in Turkey….
It is interesting to see parks within their urban setting to start to understand the relationship between urban fabric and parkland. Apparently Olmsted‘s Central Park faced something of a crisis in the 1970s and was revived in the 1980s through a major restoration project.
So the times change and people demand new things of their parks? After the French Revolution fortuneately the true value of Versailles was recognised…So hopefully designers and the public will be able to recognise the value of the past when refurbishing green spaces for the future.
There is something endlessly fascinating about models of cities…Perhaps they enable us to relate to cities in ways that are normally not possible? Perhaps they give us a God’s eye view of the landscape and everyday life.
So if we could play God for a day what would we say to those people down there that we created and who are now running around living their own lives in the various metropolis’ of the world? Or perhaps we would just make our own historical narrative films!
Would we be tempted to move the pieces on the board? Re-arrange them slightly? Why would we want to do this? ….There is certainly something very appealing about the detailed scale models of street furniture produced for the city of Toronto! And of the very different in quality abstract garden model.
In 2006 Prof Michael J. Oswald and Professor Steffen Lehmann chatted about the use of models in architectural practice. Professor Lehmann said of his experience in the office of Arata Isozaki:
“When working in Tokyo, in Arata Isozaki’s studio in 1990, I learned to appreciate the luxury of getting ideas built in-house overnight. Isozaki always valued the resource of an in-house model workshop where exquisite pieces could be made quickly. Before leaving the studio in the evening, I would hand over the latest drawings to the model shop, and when I returned to the office in the morning, there would be an accurate polystyrol model on my desk, built overnight by hard-working, younger Japanese staff. Much effort and accuracy was put into these models, even if we only used them ephemerally, to instantly check a certain idea.”