Clipped, pruned, weeded, mown

Have been reading ‘Women and Gardens’ by Sue Bennett, a National Portrait Gallery publication, 2000. It is really about British woman and gardens. And upper-class women at that, ranging from Bess of Hardwick to Beth Chatto. Gardening is described as one of the very few activities women could express themselves in.  Which  was quite true I think until the advent of woman authors.

From the Introduction: “In the beginning was a garden, a fertile, peaceful place, a haven of earthly delight. And we were banished. The sense of loss, whether of self, of childhood, or of past perfection, haunts our imaginations. And so over the centuries we have sought to recreate this place of pleasure – an enclosed world in which we can express our desire for perfection. Gardens reveal our inner selves.

My inner self must be an ordered place, then. Clipped, pruned, weeded, mown.

Interesting stuff in the second chapter ‘Allusion and Illusion: the eighteenth century’ about using a Claude glass. This being a plano-convex mirror accentuating the foreground of a vista while making the background hazy. The viewer moved the glass to select the most affecting part of the landscape  and transform it to resemble the landscape paintings of Claude Lorrain. A photoshop filter in an earlier incarnation.

Drawing is  by Thomas Gainsborough, in possesion of the British Museum.

Thomas Gainsborough Claude Mirror



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