The Garden at War: Deception, Craft and Reason
Accompanying a publication of the same title and a day-long series of talks by world-leading art historians, The Garden at War explores the gardens at Stowe as a site of metaphors, performance, ideas, and perpetual conflict. The exhibition brings together interpretations from some of the leading thinkers on landscape design, including work from Antoine Espinasseau, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Claude Lorrain and Nicolas Poussin, as well as the exhibition’s Senior Curator Joseph Black. Through these artists work we can explore the gardens at Stowe, as well as Ian Hamilton Finlay’s Little Sparta, as sites of conflict between order and disorder.
Stowe is widely held to be one of the greatest cultural achievements of the eighteenth century, incorporating work from the greatest garden designers of the day, from William Kent to ‘Capability’ Brown. Yet unlike most gardens, Stowe isn’t a garden of flowers or shrubs; it’s a garden of ideas. 250 acres of carefully maintained landscape gardens offer a complex web of views, pathways, statues, inscriptions, urns and ideas. Unlike its French floricultural precursors, Stowe presents sudden shifts of scene, abrupt revelations, as well as spots at which to stop to absorb the visual effect. There is natural beauty in the gardens of Stowe, but they serve a larger purpose than to please the eye. Beneath this facade of bucolic idyll lies a deeply important suggestion of man’s relationship to nature. Like any garden, it must be maintained and its ordered, controlled, and contained vision of nature upheld.
JOSEPH BLACK - ANTOINE ESPINASSEAU - IAN HAMILTON FINLAY - CLAUDE LORRAIN - NICOLAS POUSSIN
Stowe House, Buckingham, MK18 5EH
8 July - 9 September 2017
10 - 4 daily
CURATED BY JOSEPH BLACK