Category Archives: People

Orin’s Sugarcamp

November 21st, 2016 | 12 Comments »
Just over a year ago I began work on a project in the woods at Glen Villa, my garden in Quebec. I was inspired by an exhibition I saw at The Mount, Edith Wharton's home in western Massachusetts. One piece in particular caught my eye, a collection of oddly shaped pieces of wood that contrasted in an interesting way with the straight vertical tree trunks around them.   [caption id="attachment_4682" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Cognito, a sculptural installation by William Carlson[/caption]   I knew almost immediately that I wanted to do something similar and

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Remembering the Dead

November 6th, 2016 | 22 Comments »
With Remembrance Day fast approaching, I'm remembering people who were important in my life and looking at how the Memory Posts I painted in their honour are faring. The inspiration for my Memory Posts came from a visit to the National Gallery of Australia and its Memorial Hall.  Created by indigenous artists from Central Arnhem Land in Australia's Northern Territory, The Aboriginal Memorial is an installation of 200 hollow log bone coffins.   [caption id="attachment_4600" align="aligncenter" width="1600"] Photo courtesy of the National Gallery of Australia. The curving path represents the Glyde River in

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The Big Meadow in August

August 25th, 2016 | 19 Comments »
  This summer I've been watching what used to be a manicured lawn turn into a meadow.  Seeing the changes month to month has shown that what pleased me in June ...   [caption id="attachment_4073" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] The view from the driveway gives some idea of the size of the Big Meadow.[/caption]   became even better in July.   [caption id="attachment_4203" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Grasses on the prairie used to be called oceans of grass. Now I know why.[/caption]   I was thrilled. Was the transformation from lawn to meadow going to be as

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The Gibberd Garden

June 6th, 2016 | 8 Comments »
  Sir Frederick Gibberd was an English architect, landscape designer and town planner. His design for Harlow New Town, generally regarded as the most successful of Britain's post-WWII developments, is his greatest achievement. His garden is his most personal. Located in Essex on the outskirts of the town he designed, the garden is little known and little visited, despite being called by BBC Gardeners' World one of the most important post-war gardens in the country.   [caption id="attachment_4032" align="aligncenter" width="3888"] A bust of Gibberd by Gerda Rubinstein is viewed comfortably

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The Kennedy Memorial at Runnymede

May 30th, 2016 | 13 Comments »
Memorials are tricky things to get right. In the past, when heroes were celebrated and the power of rulers was exalted in monuments that forced ordinary people to crane their necks skywards, understanding a memorial was easy. A man on horseback was a triumphant military leader. A statue elevated on a Greek-style plinth was a politician, or perhaps a king or queen. When the statue was part of a fountain or surrounded by figures of reclining women in various stages of undress, the message was probably one that celebrated the achievements of a country

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Madoo Conservancy: A Garden Review

January 11th, 2016 | 20 Comments »
The Madoo Conservancy is a garden created over a period of almost forty years by the artist Robert Dash. Located in Sagaponack, New York, at the eastern end of Long Island, it is a destination garden, described as a magical oasis that evokes delight. It is a garden praised by many, including Rosemary Verey, the former doyenne of British gardening who designed gardens for Prince Charles, Elton John and the New York Botanical Garden. I've even heard it described as a masterpiece. So why did I find it a disappointment?

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Naumkeag, Then and Now

October 25th, 2015 | 6 Comments »
Naumkeag is one of America's finest gardens. Located in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and designed over a period of 30 years from 1925-1956, the garden reflects the desires of the last owner, Mabel Choate, and the skills of her friend and collaborator, the landscape architect Fletcher Steele. Pushing the boundaries of the old Beaux Arts traditions, together they took ideas culled from many trips abroad, from the Italian Renaissance to French modernism, and wove them into new forms to create an American masterpiece. In 2007 I visited Naumkeag for the first time. I loved the place --

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What Makes Sculpture Work?

October 12th, 2015 | 6 Comments »
In the last week I've been visiting gardens and looking at sculpture and art installations, indoors and out. I've visited art museums, gardens where sculpture is integrated into the setting, gardens with temporary sculpture exhibitions and sculpture parks where commissioned pieces are site specific. It's been a fabulous experience, instructive as well as enjoyable. I started my week with a return visit to Naumkeag, the Massachusetts garden created by the landscape architect Fletcher Steele for his friend, client and collaborator Mabel Choate. Sculptural elements are incorporated into this garden in a particularly effective

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Shaping the Earth

September 16th, 2015 | 8 Comments »
Over the last week, as part of a tour I've been leading through gardens in Scotland and the north of England, I've been fortunate enough to see four earth works created by Charles Jencks. Jencks is an American architectural theorist, writer and landscape architect who has lived in Scotland for many years and now divides his time between lecturing, writing, and designing in the USA, the UK, and Europe. There are similarities between the four projects I saw, but each is based on an idea derived from contemporary science. And while the

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I Tatti: A Garden Review

June 21st, 2015 | 6 Comments »
The Italian Villa I Tatti sits in the foothills east of Florence in a stony landscape pockmarked by quarries that supplied the pietra serena for Renaissance Florence. Built in the 16th century and renovated in the early 1900s for the American art dealer Bernard Berenson and his wife Mary Pearsall Smith, the villa and garden located in Settignano are now owned by Harvard University. Berenson's donation allowed Harvard to create The Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. To maintain the atmosphere of contemplation conducive to the exchange of ideas that Berenson believed

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