English Gardens and Sublime
on 18thC. Fantasies of Nature
Cage’s “4minutes 33 seconds of silence” is a great instrument to reconstruct the experience of an English picturesque garden. A piece in which instead of the performance, the audience listens to the sounds around them. A great experience of sublime, the piece is based on Cage’s experience of silence in visiting an an-echoic chamber that is a sound proofed room with no echoes that you can only “hear sounds of your nerve system and blood circulation”.
English gardens were designed based on the relationship of architecture, painting and theater. Ideas of beautiful, picturesque and sublime coexisted in these gardens. Beautiful can be seen in works of William Kent and Capability Brown. Capability Brown believed on seeing all nature as a garden and sometimes he has changed the nature to make it more beautiful. Sublime is all about engagement, being lost and questioning the world you belong to. Picturesque is what you can see in Claude Lorraine’s paintings where the landscape is a means of manipulating the world. They were painted at the time that people had just started going to grand tours to visit antiquities of Italy and France and therefore inspired by the subliminal sight of the ruins.
Stourhead picturesque garden built by Henry Hoare containing a lake, Palladian bridge, temple of Flora, grotto, gothic cottage, pantheon, temple of Apollo are evidence to such inspiration by grand tours. The garden lays out an allegorical relationship with Lorraine’s paintings. Scale, perspective and transformation are its underlying design principles.
Rousham, designed by William Kent featured cows, as ornaments. Theatrical scenes, an eye-catcher in distance, one point perspective with a vanishing point that does not belong to the viewer, symbolic use of statues, a pond with the serpentine rill, “haha” and the Praeneste terrace are characteristics of this garden.
Fall of 2009