Surrealism within LandscapeArchitecture: AStudy into the Weird and Wonderful
Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 1
Surrealism within Landscape Architecture: A Study into the Weird and Wonderful by Hannah Murton BA(hons) PGDip MA Landscape Architecture 2013 Leeds Metropolitan University
Front cover design and inside front cover: Tree of Half Life by Storm Thorgerson Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 2
CONTENTS ABSTRACT........................................................................................................................................4 INTRODUCTION...............................................................................................................................6 CHAPTER ONE - THE MOVEMENT..................................................................................................8 CHAPTER TWO - GARDEN HISTORY AND SURREALISM...........................................................24 CHAPTER THREE - CONTEMPORARY LANDSCAPE SURREALISM............................................40 CHAPTER FOUR - FROM STUDY TO DESIGN.................................................................................80 CHAPTER FIVE - INTRODUCTION TO THE DESIGN STUDY.......................................................84 CHAPTER SIX - THE DESIGN PROCESS AND INTERVENTIONS................................................110 CHAPTER SEVEN - CONCLUSIONS............................................................................................140 APPENDIX....................................................................................................................................144
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Purpose and Scope This report aims to explore the concepts of Surrealism, the movement and its principles and to trace these elements as they manifest within landscape architecture. The intention is to explore the history of the Surrealist Movement in depth and focus on the ideas and theories that surfaced during this period. Experimentation with the founding principles of free thought and conscious-free design, that were so important to the Surrealists, will be important in order to apply these techniques to the design component of this project. Furthermore, the study will explore garden history as well as modern landscape design in order to discover how different designers have employed similar techniques and concepts associated with the Surrealist movement. The analysis of these spaces will reveal how the design choices affected the people experiencing the space, and whether the principles of Surrealism have the desired effect on spaces today. It is also important to assess the extent to which surreal spaces exist in the public realm. The agenda is always stressed, and form, function and use are the most important factors in making design decisions. This study will examine spaces that were created without these objectives in mind, but were influenced by the exploration of human emotion, or an introverted examination of the subconscious human psyche. The research study will inform the second half of this report, a personal exploration into design using the principles of Surrealism. True Surrealism is about freedom of thought, drawing or writing with no conscious decision. This project is about contextualising these ideas within landscape architecture.
Smell the Coffee by Storm Thorgerson (2001) Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 6
INTRODUCTION What is Surrealism?
The word surreal, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, is an adjective meaning â€œhaving the qualities of surrealism; bizzareâ€?. This definition relates to the 20th-Century avant-garde movement in art and literature that began in Paris. The movement sought to unleash the creative potential of the unconscious mind through drawing, writing, poetry, sketching and painting. However, current use of the word surreal connotes strangeness, oddities or the weird and fantastic. Within the world of landscape architecture, the word surreal is often used to describe feelings or reactions to a space, rather than the actual design of a space itself. Modern landscape architecture seeks to create functional spaces that have specific and intended uses and that have been designed using principles of function and use. As a result, many landscaped spaces are defined by their intended function alone, with few people seeking alternative or creative uses of them. This document aims to explore the manifestation of surrealism in landscape architecture that occurred before, during and after the Surrealist Movement. This study seeks to identify the key principles of Surrealism, and to apply these to a design-based project centred around a pedestrian journey through London.
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The artist Prefete Duffaut was a Haitian painter who specialised in depicting warped landscapes of towns and villages based on his native country, Haiti. The roads and streets in his paintings often led to floating townscapes in the sky, symbolising the journey to nirvana.
Untitled by Prefete Duffaunt (2001)
CHAPTER ONE The Movement
Surrealism was born out of Dadaism as an artistic and literary movement in the early 1920s. World War One had ended and a group of intellectuals, led by Andre Breton, would meet in Paris cafés to discuss thought, reason and consciousness. Breton is often referred to as the founder of Surrealism and in fact went on to write and publish the movement’s two key texts, The Manifesto of Surrealism (1924) and the Second Manifesto (1929). The artists that came together in the 1920s under Breton shared a deep distrust for the bourgeoisie as they believed that the materialistic high society was responsible for the atrocities they had witnessed during World War One. Contrary to the capitalist ideals popular at the time, Breton drew heavily from the ideas of Sigmund Freud, specifically those of imagination and the power of dreams and the unconscious mind to liberate the artists around him. These concepts led to a series of texts based on the technique of ‘free association’, which became the first recorded experiment of écriture automatique - automatic writing. On this concept Breton states; Completely occupied as I still was with Freud at that time, and familiar as I was with his methods of examination which I had some slight occasion to use on some patients during the war, I resolved to obtain from myself what we were trying to obtain from them, namely a monologue spoken as rapidly as possible without any intervention on the part of the critical faculties, a monologue consequently unencumbered by the slightest inhibition and which was, as closely as possible, akin to spoken thought.
- Breton, Manifesto of Surrealism. 1924
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This notion of spoken thought was integral to all further work of the Surrealists. The group grew to incorporate many, now famous, artists including Ernst, Miro, Picasso, Dali, Magritte, Eluard and de Chirico. They all worked within the realm of a subversion of reality; a play on space, light, words, images, all juxtaposed with polar opposites to create “the most powerful poetic detonations” (Breton, Manifesto of Surrealism. 1924). Au Rendez-vous des amis (1922) by Max Ernst First Row: Crevel, Ernst, Dostoyevsky, Fraenkel, Paulhan, Péret, Baargeld,Desnos. Standing: Soupault, Art, Morise, Raphael, Eluard, Aragon, Breton, de Chirico,Gala Eluard
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As well as creating individual works of art, the Surrealists were a tight, loyal group of friends who engaged with collaborative experiments. Still very much focused on the concept of forming art without a specific rational direction, the Surrealists invented the game cadavre exquis - exquisite corpse. Similar to the modern game Consequences (indeed this game is based on the original played by the Surrealists), several people are involved in making a sentence or drawing by passing paper from person to person whilst folding over and concealing what the predecessor has written or drawn (Klingsohr-Leroy. 2004). This achieved a collective way of expressing freedom of thought, as each sentence or drawing had no basis in what came before it. The very first sentence produced by the Surrealists through this game read:
'' Le - cadavre - exquis - boira - le - vin - nouveau
(The - exquisite - corpse - shall - drink - the - new - wine)
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Exquisite Corpse by Jake Chapman and Dinos Chapman (2000)
Clockwise from top left: The Elephant of Celebes Max Ernst (1921) The Key to Dreams Rene Magritte (1927) Gare Montparnasse (The Melancholy of Departure) Giorgio de Chirico (1914) Woman Joan Miro (1934)
By 1925 the Bureau for Surrealist Research was founded and the new agenda for the movement, one which was more attuned to reality and the political climate, was formed (Klingsohr-Leroy. 2004). This led to a shift that moved closely towards Marxism, and consequently began to cause rifts and tensions within the group. Individuality was always much more important to the Surrealists than communality, and the aim of the group, according to Breton, was still “to give spontaneous expression to the intellectual relationships between artists working independently” (Klingsohr-Leroy. 2004). The formation of an organised manifesto was considered by some the antithesis of spontaneous and free thought. Some members of the group were more attracted to the political potential that Surrealism presented. However, Breton stayed true to his ideals and kept creativity and art at the heart of the movement, stating, “it is just as necessary that our experiments relating to the interior life should continue, without any control from the outside, including from the Marxist side” (Breton, Légitime Défense. 1926). In 1929 Breton published the Second Manifesto, which cemented his ideals for the movement and its future including denouncing artists once connected to Surrealism who had since changed their artistic style. The text was also concerned with the practice of alchemy, lending it a more mysterious and magical tone . Breton referenced the work of 14th Century alchemist Nicholas Flamel, and stated that Surrealism was seeking the philosopher’s stone that would enable the human imagination to “take brilliant revenge on the inanimate” (Klingsohr-Leroy. 2004). This concept is reflected in the work of Magritte, who often juxtaposed inanimate objects with conflicting text and images. The focus on objects led to a new phase within the movement, which was more concerned with working in three dimensions and creating sculpture and models.
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Salvador Dali was a later addition to the Surrealists and only joined the movement in 1929. He worked in many mediums including sketching, painting and sculpture, and was wholly preoccupied with the Surrealist principle of the juxtaposition of two or more seemingly unconnected objects. The shift to the three-dimensional opened up a whole new era for the Surrealists and helped establish the products of their work into the â€˜realâ€™ world.
Lobster Telephone by Salvador Dali (1934)
Surreal Landscape Salvador Dali is probably one of the most famous artists to be connected to the Surrealists and is easily recognised by his warped visions of landscapes in his art. His art is conceptually based on dreams and unconscious visions that appear irrational, enigmatic and complex. Often the perspective of the landscape is realistic, whilst the objects that make it up or that emerge out of it are metaphysical in their representation and action. His landscapes conjure images of unearthly beings or strange environments that seem only to exist in the inner psyche of dreams or the dreamer. In this way the viewer is confronted with an image that represents the inner voice of the painter and this can have an uncomfortable or awesome effect. The painting opposite is titled Autumn Canniballism and was painted in 1936. Painted just after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, this work shows a couple locked in a cannibalistic embrace. They are pictured on a table-top, which merges into the earthy tones of a Spanish landscape in the background. The conflict between countrymen is symbolised by the apple balanced on the head of the male figure, which refers to the legend of William Tell, in which a father is forced to shoot at his son.
- Tate Online. 2004
Although Daliâ€™s paintings are some of the most recognisable examples of Surrealist art, the combination of a fixed realistic landscape and a surreal focal object make it, to some extent, possible to reproduce in the real world. The entwined bodies of Autumn Cannibalism, for example, could be transformed to a sculpture as, although they are surreal in context, they are physically possible. In contrast, artists like M.C. Escher create physically impossible places.
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Jacek Yerka is a contemporary artist whose paintings are often categorised as fantasy, yet their roots lie in Surrealism. The painting opposite, Orange Grove, depicts a seemingly impossible view. The painting exemplifies the juxtaposition of incompatible objects favoured by the Surrealists. Firstly, the orange trees are an unlikely pairing with the tiled floor they are rooted in. A doorway raised upon a stoop is painted realistically, however, its position within the orange grove turns it into a portal leading the eye to an impossible space. The recursive nature of the internal corridor adds to the surreal nature of the composition. The dreamlike nature is exacerbated by the winged clocks crawling out of a drain in the floor and flying across the painting.
Yerka’s canvases are places where physics doesn’t give a damn about enforcing its own rules, where the mundane and the unlikely collide in a matter-of-fact way. Often, the paintings show two worlds living on top of each other — one recognizable and the other entirely alien. The result is that you start to doubt your grasp on the known; another land could be lurking a few yards under my feet, filled with goblins, unearthly cities, strange dreamscapes, and peril. It’s a nice thought to foster in this work-a-day world.
- Quaedam Online. 2009
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Key Principles of Surrealism Broadly speaking there are two main types of Surrealism, Illusionism and Automatism, which all artists adhered to. Illusionism deals with the creation of art in an attempt to recreate the pseudorealistic quality of dreams, as well as irrational content, absurd juxtapositions and metamorphosis. Automatism, on the other hand, is created directly from automatic writing or drawing. Unlike illusionism, automatism ignores realism’s influences and instead draws on expressionism and abstract expressionism (Thumbprint Gallery. 2011). The ideals outlined in the Manifesto were already in gestation for up to half a decade before its publication, but what Breton achieved was to cement these ideas into a codified movement that allowed Surrealism to bear fruit in a uniform way. However, artists and critics interpreted the Manifesto in different ways. Some felt it was a fixed decree that outlined the key principles to be followed, whereas others viewed the text as a set of guidelines that were open to interpretation. The latter was favoured by literary critic J.H Matthews, who wrote, “An interpretation that treats the 1924 text as authority for regarding surrealism as a static rather than a dynamic phenomenon is, whether deliberately or not, twisting its meaning, the proponents of such an interpretation being grave injustice to Andre Breton, and the ambitions he sought to bring into focus” (Matthews, Fifty Years Later: the Manifesto of Surrealism. 1975). Similar to J.H Matthews, the founder of the Chicago Surrealist Group, Franklin Rosemont also sought to cast light on the principles of Surrealism. His 1977 text entitled What is Surrealism states: More specifically, surrealism aims to reduce, and ultimately to resolve, the contradictions between sleeping and waking, dream and action, reason and madness, the conscious and the unconscious, the individual and society, the subjective and the objective. It aims to free the imagination from the mechanisms of psychic and social repression, so that the inspiration and exaltation heretofore regarded as the exclusive domain of poets and artists will be acknowledged as the common property of all.
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- F. Rosemont. 1977
Whilst not a definitive set of criteria, the work of the Surrealists included some of the following principles: • • • • • • •
the formation of ‘impossible’ settings the juxtaposition of two or more seemingly incompatible objects warping of space or perspective the use of non-naturalistic colour within a natural setting the use of text with images the abstraction of form the lack of function and agenda
It is the application of these principles in varying combinations that creates a sense of the extraordinary, the fantastic, the weird or the strange. But, what does this mean in terms of Landscape Architecture? Dealing with three dimensions in the real world means complying to laws of gravity, physics and construction. To some extent this immediately limits what is possible to build. It summons questions about the realisation of Surrealism, such as how can one resolve the contradictions between sleeping and waking, dream and action, reason and madness, the conscious and the unconscious within a landscape? The design study later in the document aims to reconcile these two worlds, with an attempt to make the impossible possible. Although a number of the above principles have been employed in landscape design throughout history, they have not generally been used so explicitly. Furthermore, a number of these gardens pre-date the Surrealist Movement and the following chapter examines these in more detail.
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Garden History and Surrealism Gardens and designed outdoor spaces have been created since the earliest civilisations in Mesopotamia, China and Japan. The presence of gardens in these areas provides evidence of stable and settled human societies. The principles of garden design were first documented by the Roman author Vitruvius, who famously wrote the ten-volume text On Architecture (27 BC). In this document he stipulated that the design objectives for an outdoor space were of durability, convenience and beauty. None of these objectives reflect the principles of Surrealism as identified in the previous chapter. However, one could argue that the design of outdoor spaces has always been somewhat surreal in essence. The formality of planting trees in avenues, or sculpting hedges and shrubs could be considered an imposition of will on nature, which therefore subverts and undermines nature. Indeed, there is nothing real about trees growing in militant lines, however, this isnâ€™t considered surreal or strange in any way. This chapter explores spaces that embody, to varying extents, the Surrealist principles, although all were built pre-Movement. Most of the spaces discussed include a grotto or folly, which were popularised in the 18th century becoming an aesthetic shorthand for something otherworldy or magical.
Ogni Pensiero Vola (All Reason Departs) by Vicino Orcini at Bomarzo Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 28
The Monsters of Bomarzo A well known example of an early landscape that could be considered surreal is the Sacro Bosco at Bomarzo in Italy, created from 1557 onwards. It was built by an Italian nobleman, Vicino Orcini, as a memorial to his wife. It is populated by carved sculptures depicting turtles, lions, dragons, bears, harpies and fish. The quote below describes the impression when walking through the garden Emerging from the deep woods, the gaping mouth of a giant stone head is at once hideous and strangely enticing - an episode among many others in the surreal pageant of mythical beasts, mysterious figures and bizarre architectures hewn straight out of the rock which constitutes the Sacred Grove of Bomarzo.
- The Garden Book. 2000
Although conceived as a memorial, the gardens here were essentially an indulgent project by Orcini who wished to reject the ideas of formality so popular during the 16th Century; “Making no attempt to tame the wilderness of the valley below his family castle, he used it to create a very personal symbolic and metaphysical itinerary. In this he was turning his back on contemporary garden philosophy, opposing both the refinement of Villa Lante and the arrogance of Villa d’Este” (The Garden Book. 2000). This rejection of current and fashionable aesthetics foreshadowed the Surrealist spirit which rallied against the bourgeoisie 460 years later. Orcini drew heavily on his favourite books and poetry, specifically the work of Dante, when designing and laying out the Sacro Bosco. The landscape was designed to be read like a book, “providing a philosophical journey through themes such as love, death, memory and truth” (artandarchitecture. org). Consequently, Orcini was less concerned with the look and function of the garden and more interested in how the space would be emotionally received. A good example of this is the Ogni Pensiero Vola monster head that leads into a grotto with a picnic table. Initially alluding to Dante’s mouth of hell, visitors enter to discover a comfortable place to relax; in this way Orcini aimed to defy and disorientate expectations.
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Leaning structures by Vicino Orcini at Bomarzo
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Although the theme of the garden was a conscious decision based on Orciniâ€™s interpretations of literature and poetry, the placement of the sculptures and follies was not a choice he could make. As they were carved out of the living rock by an unknown sculptor, the placement is based on the location of existing rocks and the size needed to deliver the complete configuration. There is no coherent structure to the layout of the garden, and in this way it becomes a surreal journey through his depictions. Next to some of the sculptures, Orcini placed rocks with lines from poems and stories, encouraging visitors to engage with the literature through both language and art. During the Surrealist Movement four centuries later, Rene Magritte would employ a similar practice in his art, challenging perceptions with his use of words. The Sacro Bosco at Bomarzo is probably the earliest example of Surrealism within a garden design to elicit a specific reaction from visitors. Medieval iconography, renaissance literature, biblical references and Roman text all amount to an ensemble aimed at confusing visitors. However, it is worth remembering that the primary function of the gardens were to mourn the loss of his wife using elements he saw as important and evoking. After his death, the gardens were neglected and for 400 years fell further into disrepair and became overgrown with vegetation. In the 1940s, the gardens were rediscovered by Salvador Dali who chose to spend his free time there. The gardens were supposedly his inspiration for his 1946 painting The Temptation of St Anthony, as well as being the location for a short film Dali shot. The Gardens at Bomarzo were driven by personal need rather than as a response to a trend and there is little evidence of similar gardens around that time. Two centuries later a desire for variety in garden design developed along with a fashion for follies and grottoes. An early example of this is William Chambers work at Kew.
Neptune in the Sacro Bosco at Bomarzo (Photo by I Middleton. 2008.) Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 33
Kew Gardens Kew Gardens were originally established as a landscaped garden by Capability Brown in the mid 1700s for Lord Capel John of Tewkesbury. It was enlarged and extended by Princess Augusta, who enlisted the services of William Chambers for its design. It was during this period that follies and grottoes became fashionable, and in an attempt to rebel against the formal sweeping lawns of Brown’s design, Chambers decorated the gardens with many structures including aviaries, menageries, a Palladian bridge, mosques, the largest hothouse of the era and more than twenty temples. The eclectic collection satisfied his desire for diversity across the landscape: “[He] disliked the blandness of Brown’s smooth lawns and lakes, preferring gardens that displayed variety - ‘the pleasing, the terrible and the surprising’” (The Garden Book. 2000). Many of these structures are no longer standing, although the ten-storey pagoda built in 1761 still remains. Chambers was inspired by Chinese architecture during his travels abroad, and found Kew the perfect setting for recreating the structures he admired in China. The surreal aspect comes from the location of such a structure within the English countryside. During this time the Chinese style was the prevailing taste in Europe, whereas now, it seems an unlikely structure to find in a landscaped garden. The mixing of styles such as Roman, Greek and Chinese created an effect similar to that at Bomarzo. Without explanation or justification visitors are confronted with structures and follies lifted from many different civilisations and eras. Chambers wanted to create this effect of the surprising and used an abundance of visual stimuli to achieve this.
The Pagoda (mytravelphotos.net. 2012) Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 34
Lane’s Grotto Around the same time that follies were being used, grottoes became a fashionable addition to a garden, and both now represent typical elements of 18th century garden design. Originally brought into the French and Italian traditions during the 1500s, grottoes have always been used as an ornamental feature but have served a variety of functions. Some were used as shrines to gods, others as bathing spots, and some just served as refuge from the sun. However, it was during the 1700s that some of the most famous and intricate grottoes were created. Designed by Joseph Lane between 1738 and 1773, this grotto sits within the landscaped parks created by the Honourable Charles Hamilton, and adheres to some of the principles of Surrealism. At the time it was only accessible by boat, thus the grotto was removed from the ordinary world an existed in a realm of its own. The gardens were designed “with the aim of provoking the greatest variety of moods” (The Garden Book. 2000). Similar to both Kew and Bomarzo, the intended atmosphere was to entice, excite, surprise as well as confuse and mystify. Lane constructed the grotto using an unlikely union of gypsum, calcite spars and coral. The abstraction of form also takes place here, with Lane’s crystal formations curving to points all across the ceilings offering an array of exaggerated forms that act as stalactites within the caves. The crystal grotto has been described like looking at “something out of a fairytale” (Mail Online. 2013), and having a “shimmering strangeness!” (Lady Lucinda Lambton. 2013). These epithets are evidence of the surreal quality of the space. The grotto itself offers refuge for visitors to pass time, “whilst the world outside takes on a strange perspective” (The Garden Book. 2000). The Painshill grotto has, this year, undergone extensive restoration work and is now open to the public, allowing visitors to experience the world that Lane created over two centuries ago.
Painshill Grotto (Mail Online.2013) Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 37
The Ideal Palace Defying any notion of integrated design, Le Palais Ideal is haphazardly made up of colonnades and balustrades, staircases and grottoes, fountains and sculptures. This intense and fantastical environment, which combines mythical beastiaries, far-reaching mythologies and multiple religious references was built between 1879 and 1912, the work of Joseph Ferdinand Cheval, a country postman with no qualifications except limitless imagination and energy.
- The Garden Book. 2000.
Le Palais Ideal is probably the most apt garden to illustrate the principle of unconscious decision in design. Cheval began collecting strangely shaped pebbles and stones as he walked around the countryside. These acted as inspiration for him. He remarked “if nature can be such a sculptor, I can be a builder and an architect” (The Garden Book. 2000). He began to use his collection to embellish objects within his garden plot, which eventually led to the creation of rills, fountains and eventually larger sculptures and structures. In the same way that Chambers used Kew to display his attraction to Chinese architecture, Cheval used the grounds to stage a personal compendium of structures showcasing his interest in a variety of cultures. The west facade of Le Palais Ideal comprises of a Hindu temple, a Swiss chalet, the Square House of Algiers, a medieval castle and a mosque. To further illustrate his philanthropic views at the entrance to the mosque is the inscription the fairies of the East come to fraternize with the West. In 1904, a poem by the Alpine Bard Emile Roux-Parassa, which provided Cheval with a name for his creation, spoke of the garden:
“this is art, this is a dream, this is energy... our Palace, with its superb ideal” - facteurcheval.com Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 38
Photograph of Cheval in front of Le Palais Ideal after construction (facteurcheval.com). The poem reads: â€œFriend of Nature but obscure birth which often makes life I suffered without a murmur - the author of the palaceâ€?
It was the combination of these diverse elements that attracted Andre Breton to Le Palais Ideal in the early 1930s. Breton revealed that he considered Cheval to be the precursor of Surrealist architecture. Other members of the Surrealist movement honoured Cheval and his work; Max Ernst produced work as a tribute to him and AndrĂŠ Malraux fiercely defended any criticism of the site declaring it a national monument in 1969. Although the garden became more design-orientated towards the end of the project, it began as a wholly organic process with no agenda from Cheval. His methodology foreshadowed the Surrealist manifesto in many ways: organic thought as a route to art production, abstraction of form, juxtaposing incompatible objects and using moral beliefs as a subject matter for art. The four spaces described in this chapter present some of the principles of Surrealism in their design, despite occurring up to 460 years prior to the start of the Movement. The fact that the gardens are spread across four and a half centuries indicate that they were isolated in their nature and not part of a trend. It is worth noting that the two more extreme examples of surrealism, Bomarzo and Le Palais Ideal, were not built with a client or audience to serve. Rather, they were both a foray into self expression and ultimately existed as self-involved projects in which designers could indulge their eccentricities. To some extent these contrast Kew and Painshill Grotto, which were, perhaps, more subtle in their approach as they served a wider audience. The Surrealists of the 1920s and 30s were undoubtedly influenced by gardens such as Bomarzo and Le Palais Ideal. In turn, later landscape design was influenced by the Surrealist Movement of the 1920s. The following chapter explores contemporary 20th Century gardens design which exhibits elements of the surreal.
Palais Ideal (facteurcheval.com) Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 41
Contemporary Landscape Surrealism Although the Surrealists strove to channel their inner psyche, the outside world was of great importance to them too. Both landscape and the uncultivated, natural world provided inspiration that led to experiments in medium and media: Ernst pioneered frottage and Dali shot a short film at Bomarzo. Professor Fernando Magallanes of the North Carolina College of Design states, “Landscape was never the focus of surrealist theory. Yet it is clear that landscape was indirectly addressed as a metaphorical, poetic and inspirational vehicle for surrealist ends. Surrealism’s openness to a variety of media expression incited painters to expand into collage, frottage, and decalcomania and opened the door for a sympathetic relationship with the built and natural landscape” (Surrealism and Architecture. 2005). An example of this would be when writer and poet Louis Aragon visited Parc des Buttes-Chaumont with Andre Breton. Of the excursion Megallanes states, “These kinds of playful adventures, like the unplanned visit to Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, were the initial sources that led writers to build a deeper reality of place. For Aragon, Parc des Buttes-Chaumont was a site filled with abstract fictive possibilities and more concrete visible objects such as oddly placed Greek follies, engineered bridges, and reconfigured artificial landscapes containing magical and psychoanalytical meanings. The animist qualities found in the park objects, the deaths produced from numerous suicide jumps off a bridge in the park, and its tormented quarried past were magical to the writers in reconfiguring a surreal place” (Surrealism and Architecture. 2005). The interpretation of place became the leading factor for the Surrealists, who would draw on inspiration from the landscape to inform their own artistic creations. Surrealism as a movement was clearly influenced by the landscape, in turn, the Movement impacted 20th and 21st Century landscape design significantly. The products of Surrealism exist as poetry, paintings, sculpture, literature, film and photography and have been excellent sources of inspiration for landscape designers.
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Thomas Church is perhaps the first recorded landscape architect to use the principles and theories of Surrealism in his projects. He embodied the methodological and aesthetic principles of Surrealism and the renown 1948 Donnell Garden in Sonoma, California, is an example of this. In the same way that Surrealism dealt with the expression of human emotions, Church also explored the concept of desire in his work. He stated that a space must be “determined by the desire of the people who expect to find happiness in their gardens” (Surrealism and Architecture. 2005). In order to achieve his client’s desires, Church felt that all preconceptions should be removed before beginning a new work, and that an artist or designer should “listen and observe before getting any preconceived notions about how their client’s garden should be arranged” (Surrealism and Architecture. 2005). This echoes the Surrealist theory that new methods of expression should be explored in each project, without falling back on existing notions of writing and art. As well as his design approach, the physical layout of Donnell gardens can also be considered surreal. The sculptor Adaline Kent provided art for the garden, her amorphous sculpture sitting within the pool has a familiarity that is reminiscent of the organic forms so common in the work of Arp or Miro. A warping of perspective also takes place in the garden: “Infinite surreal space can be seen or experienced when standing or sitting at the pool deck. The view does not end at the edge of the pool. It extends across the existing marsh and beyond to the mountains. Against this natural context, the biomorphic forms of the pool, and the melancholic sculpture by Kent in juxtaposition with the Californian mountains beyond, create the surreal effect” (Magallenes, Surrealism and Architecture. 2005).
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The organic shape of the pool at Donnell gardens is amplified by the amorphous sculpture by Adaline Kent that seems to inexplicably hover above the surface of the water. The effect is that of an infinite landscape, a place in which anything could be possible. Photo from Black Walnut Dispatch online
Church’s work embodied many principles of Surrealism and this seemed to pave the way for landscape conceptualism to become a recognisable art form. Three decades after the Donnell Gardens, Martha Schwartz arrived and received both notable acclaim and criticism for her Bagel Garden in 1979.
Photo from thenational.ae (2011)
In true surrealist fashion, Schwartz managed to use the juxtaposition of bagels within the garden to challenge perceptions of reality, what is and what isn’t expected in a garden context. As Magallanes states “Contemporary landscape architects are not surrealists, they are designers who seek to mine the surrealist spirit” (Surrealism and Architecture. 2005), Schwartz is now a renown landscape architect, working under the broad umbrella of conceptualisation but always drawing heavily from Surrealist principles. The following case studies are examples of gardens or public spaces which are surreal in nature and design, and timeless in popularity. Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 47
Parc Güell - Antoni Gaudi The extensive work of Antoni Gaudi spans many genres. He has been described as the founder of Catalan Modernism, as part of the Outsider Art movement, as a Surrealist and conceptualist. His work at Parc Güell began in 1900 and finished in 1914, well before the defined start of the Surrealist Movement. Despite the chronology, Parc Güell embodies many of the principles of Surrealism capable of expression within a landscaped space. Gaudi took much of his inspiration from nature. He was famously quoted as saying nothing is art if it does not come from nature and anything created by humans is already in the great book of nature. His architectural forms were often organic in shape, with lines bending and curving to express his belief that nature does not exist in straight lines. Predominantly an architect, Gaudi’s buildings are renown for their curving façades, graceful arches, and integrated crafts such as mosaic, ironwork and ceramics. Parc Güell spans over 17 hectares and is built upon a failed residential site, on a rocky hill that had little or no existing vegetation. This gave Gaudi the opportunity to exploit his personal style of ‘composing his works with juxtapositions of geometric mass’ (Biography Online. 2013). The Serpentine Bench is perhaps the most recognised feature of Parc Güell. A meandering bench stretches 160 metres along the periphery of the Gran Placa Circular, suspended over ten metres above ground level on 86 giant columns that create a hall beneath the plaza, known as the Sala Hipòstila. The bench is completely covered in a mosaic of ceramic tiles in a variety of colours and patterns, creating a stark aesthetic contrast against the backdrop of the hill. The form and size of the Serpentine bench is surreal in itself, as its length and shape subvert any notion of a regular bench. The bench is just one feature of many within the park that allude to a fairy-tale like place: “But the serpentine bench at Güell Park is among the milder features in an array of hallucinatory fixtures that includes gingerbread gatehouses topped with red and white wild mushrooms, pavilions of contorted stone, a vast hall of columns, and the coup de grace, a giant decorative lizard” (Destination360. 2013) The entrance to Parc Güell (Photo by H Murton. 2013) Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 48
Gaudi also worked closely with nature when designing the park. The name of the site Mutanya Pelada translates to Bald Mountain, a reference to the complete lack of vegetation. Gaudi wanted to enhance the natural beauty of the site, without detracting from its natural state: “[He]wanted to cooperate with nature, so he ordered the creation of an autochthonous natural area based on Mediterranean species, which are stronger, but require less water and maintenance. He did not only respect the atmosphere by planting trees [sic]. When a topographic map was made of the fifteen hectares which Güell had purchased, Gaudí observed that, given the characteristics of the land, many leveling [sic] and embankments-which would ruin the beauty of the land-would be necessary to build roads, so he designed the famous viaducts which allowed the mountain’s natural shape to be preserved. These viaducts are supported by inclined columns, with manufactured brick centers, covered with natural stone from the site” (H.L. Andersen. 2011). Although Gaudi respected the natural appearance of the hill, his reverence of nature did not dwarf his ambitions for the site. Instead he engaged in a compromise between nature and art which manifested as a retention of natural forms and the construction of new structures that mimic nature in their design. The symbolism of the park also exemplifies its surreal nature. The Sala Hipòstila hall represents an ancient Greek marketplace, whilst the Gran Placa Circular is representative of a Greek theatre. The stairs leading up from ground level, the tiered land above it, the Serpentine bench and the views from the Plaza all allude to the formation of a Greek theatre. The first tiered section is lined with living palm trees, whilst the second tier is ornamented with stone palm trees that act like theatre boxes, overlooking the plaza (S.Wapniak. 2006). The scale of the park can somewhat defy perception, as from the entrance, the size of the Gran Placa Circular is not fully revealed until you climb the stairs. Many spaces within Parc Güell are hidden, like the Sala Hipòstila hall underneath. The plaza itself is totally invisible from the highest point of Parc Güell, as Gaudi left the natural form of the hillside to obstruct certain views, never allowing the scale of the park to become overwhelming to a visitor. Photos clockwise: A warped arched walkway, step details, view of the gatehouses from the Plaza and gate details in metalwork. (Photos by H.Murton 2013) Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 51
Gaud’s use of materials also enhances the surreal quality of the park. The different spaces within the park are often constructed with the same material but treated in a different way. The choice of a limited palette of materials creates cohesion and sequence between the different spaces, whilst maintaining their unique quality, for example, much of the stone construction was sourced from site to build the plaza and the warped arches walkway: “Gaudi rarely used paints or finishes on the natural materials, but was deliberate in how he had the stones laid or mortared together so that the stone took on the qualities of other natural materials. Gaudi made the stone look like tree bark, elephant’s skin and gingerbread. By managing to draw out such versatility from simple, consistent materials, Gaudi was able to apply fluidity throughout the park. Each space holds its own entity, but can be viewed as part of a whole” (S.Wapniak. 2006). However surreal the overall atmosphere at Parc Güell feels, Gaudi was a man of logic and function. His park was not intended to confuse or mystify, rather, it was an allusion to the beauty of nature and the functionality was intentional. Both Salvador Dali and Joan Miro praised Gaudi’s buildings and ideas: “[Dali] was particularly fond of the surreal effect of Park Güell’s rock gardens, “its upper pathways lined with strange “trees” of rock with aloes bushing out widely from them, filled him with “unforgettable anguish” in his youth.” (S.Wapniak. 2006). The continued popularity of Parc Güell today is a testament to Gaudi’s imagination and ability to encapsulate the fantastic and surreal within his structures. It is a place of extreme colour, shape and form, and has been inspirational for the Surrealists and many modern creatives in the 21st Century.
The tiered construction of the Plaza (mytravelphotos.net. 2013) The famous Lizard sculpture (commons.wikimedia.org. 2004) Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 52
Las Pozas - Edward James Las Pozas, one of the art worldâ€™s best kept secrets is located in the junglecovered mountains of Mexico. This spectacular song to surrealism with its enormous, brightly-coloured concrete structures springing from lush vegetation was created by one of the least known most compelling figures of our time, the eccentric English aristocrat, Edward James -- poet, patron and architect of dreams.
- Unknown (n.d.)
Born in 1907 to a wealthy family, Edward James was raised according to strict Edwardian ideals and was educated both at Christ Church Oxford and briefly at Eton. James was a life-long patron of the arts and became associated with Surrealism when he took patronage of Salvador Dali for the entire year of 1938. He also supported artists within the Surrealist Movement such as Magritte, Klee, Picasso and Ernst, buying their work which was considered unfashionable at the time. After a painful and largely public divorce of dancer Tilly Losch in 1934, James isolated himself at his large family mansion. It was over dinner one day when James suffered what he described as a projection of his subconscious on the ceiling. He saw plants and animals arranged around a sphere of light, spinning to the sound of Beethoven, faster until it exploded. James was so struck by this vision that he wrote his only critically acclaimed novel, The Gardener, using his vision as inspiration (The Secret Life of Edward James. 1978). The media attention, his bitter divorce and the lack of response from his remaining family caused James to become an introvert, writing poetry and investigating his psyche, producing often delusional and fantastic works. His love of Surrealism was definitely an influential factor on his creation at Las Pozas. Despite always writing poetry, it was through building the gardens at Las Pozas that he realized himself as an artist. Having spent time searching both New Mexico and California for the ideal site, in 1945 James discovered land at Xilitla, seven hours drive north of Mexico City, which was to become the perfect location for his Garden of Eden. Las Pozas (tejiendoelmundo.wordpress.com. 2010) Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 55
For the first ten years of his residence at Las Pozas, James planted exotic orchids as a home for the animals and butterflies he loved to study. It was after an unprecedented frost in 1962 which destroyed many of the orchids that James began constructing the strange concrete sculptures that now populate the jungle there (Fondo Xilitla. 2008). He said that he “found such possibilities for growing in the jungle” and that “nothing was ever planned” (The Secret Life of Edward James. 1978).This trial and error approach informed both his horticultural and built experiments. In a similar vein to Antoni Gaudi, James’ structures were inspired by nature. His ethos was that if the plants and trees were built out of concrete, no weather, however fierce, could destroy them. Having no architectural training whatsoever, James would slowly draw what he wanted and a team of 30 local villagers would erect it piece by piece. His moment of pure megalomania, as he described, was the building of the tower. Initially intended to have 8 floors, James wanted the top floor to consist of an aviary for breeding parrots for release into the wild, as well as a room for projections and concerts. James’ approach was to build first and decide upon a function later. Often it was not until he could see the structure that he could visualise its use. A series of stills from the 1978 documentary The Secret Life of Edward James by George Melly. Stills from left to right: James descending a staircase that leads to nowhere. James in his study at Monkton House, the famous Mae West Lips Sofa designed by Salvador Dali and commissioned by James sits behind him.
His taste of the fantastic and bizarre became apparent as more and more structures were built throughout the jungle. The concrete was often painted in bright colours to be glimpsed through the thick foliage of green trees and plants. There were staircases that went nowhere, paths that twisted 360 degrees, concrete bamboo pillars, and the House with a Roof like a Whale. Like Orcini at Bomarzo and Cheval with his Ideal Palace, James made a dream world a reality, complete with structures taken straight from his own fantasies. His use of concrete as the main material provides the garden with a rhythm and a sense of completeness, although the garden never was finished. His sculptures form impossible places, with the surrealism of the site exacerbated by the number of exotic parrots, birds and mammals that inhabit it. In a similar style to 18th Century garden design, Las Pozas is full of follies, grottoes, huts, bridges, and other structures that make up his Garden of Eden.
Stills from left to right: James with his wild parrots in Xilitla. The tower at Las Pozas.
Rather than considering the dense nature of the jungle as an inconvenience, James worked to harmonise his new structures with the existing vegetation, allowing it to permeate his creations. He constructed grand planters designed to replicate the exotic vegetation of the jungle itself. He left holes in some of the floors for trees to grow through, and most of his buildings lacked walls allowing for the vegetation to encroach within. Navigation through the gardens was a disorientating activity, but James enjoyed this and felt that it added to the experience. The natural presence of the jungle and the size and volume of the concrete forms creates a sensory overload for visitors as they discover Jamesâ€™ uniquely surreal dreamscape. Abstraction of form occurs across bridges, follies, gates and alleyways. Stairways often lead nowhere, whilst gates take the form of serpents. Many of the structures beg the questions What is it? What is it for? The gigantification of nature in concrete dwarfs and disorientates the visitor. True to Surrealist principles, James was led by his dreams, visions and subconscious desires to create what he felt the world needed. With no thought to public opinion or reaction, Las Pozas was Jamesâ€™ personal expression of his feelings and thoughts.
If I am a Surrealist, its not because I got linked with the movement its because I was born one. A great number of people are Surrealists without ever having heard of the movement. But it is people who were close to their subconscious, the world is not completely logical all of the time, they make the illogical logical, and they make it more vivid than life, in the way that dreams can be more vivid than actual actuality.
- Edward James in the 1978 Documentary by George Melly
Pozas Planters (Midwesterner in Mexico. 2010) Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 58
The Forbidden Corner The Forbidden Corner is a parkland full of follies, grottoes, underground mazes and soaring towers that is open to the public as a tourist attraction. According to its website, it boasts the title for the strangest place in the world. The park sits upon is the estate of Tupgill, bought in 1974 by Colin Armstrong. It began its life when Armstrong wanted to build a bower within a newly planted area of fir trees. His good friend and architect Malcolm Tempest decided that the best thing to give the bower its required shelter and shade, would be to build a high wall around the trees to “give the effect of a walled garden and to shelter it from the wind” (C.Armstrong. 2001). The wall ended up being over seven feet high. Whilst the wall was under construction, the idea of a small grotto began to take shape, which, unbeknown to Armstrong who was overseas at the time, ended up being over twenty-five feet deep. Armstrong’s vision of the grotto was originally “a little cave made of piled rocks in which a little ‘green-eyed yellow monster’ might be found”. On the topic of their partnership, Armstrong recalls, “Malcolm generally took an idea of mine and magnified it. If I had achieved anything left to myself, it would have been small,probably insignificant and, more than likely, not have given me or anyone else the pleasure which everyone has gained from his creation” (C.Armstrong. 2001). Tempest and Armstrong continued to fill the estate with follies, grottoes and mazes, after reading the book The Art of the Maze by Fisher and Garster, which inspired the continued growth of the garden. What started as a private pleasure garden now exists as The Forbidden Corner. Skipton Castle, Portmerion and Bodygallen Hall Hotel also provided inspiration to Armstrong, who wanted to recreate the colourful outdoor rooms of Portmerion and the shell grotto of Skipton at his Tupgill Estate. In 1992, meadows, glades and acres of forest were developed on the estate to reflect its Fifteenth Century history as a hunting park for Richard III. (Photo by H.Murton. 2013) Stone sign reads: The view is fine, You may well say But friend you’ve come Quite the wrong way Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 61
1992 also brought the addition of two six-metre high Corinthian pillars to mark the entrance to the grotto. A cave effect was achieved by an approach up a canyon of boulders that formed a stream bed with stepping stones. This completed, the Temple was born. The Temple (Britainâ€™s Best Breaks Online)
Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 62
Several entrances to the Temple were created using a series of tunnels that extended into the ground behind the original grotto. These entrances aimed to disorientate their private guests. Armstrong continued to create and extend his follies with no regard for planning permission or expenses, â€œWe decided that one [entrance] would come out on the southern side through a large skull into a chamber with seven doors, all exactly the same. The trick was that the doors would open only one at a time and one had to work out which led to the open air. To add to the fun, there was a revolving floor in this chamber which complicates thing a lot - especially as one is temped to look up to the light above, which comes in through a pyramid of molten glassâ€? (C.Armstrong. 2001). In 1993 the University of Hull contacted Armstrong in regards to visiting his grotto. It was after this visit that they decided to open the park to the public. With a new audience in mind they then created maze upon maze that extended both above and below ground, through follies, over bridges, and began to incorporate sensor-reactive water spouts that mischievously sprayed visitors with water when they walked past. The Forbidden Corner also uses mechanised statues, pyrotechnics, lights and recorded sounds to make the journey through the garden a truly sensory experience. The site also embodies the design of a formal park, including such features as raised planters, herb gardens, box hedges and ornamental beds. The juxtaposition of the serene with the strange adds to the surreal nature of the experience. One minute a visitor is happily exploring the herb garden, and the next is being cheekily addressed by a plastic horse peeking over a stone wall. The fun and whimsical nature of the experience has earned the Forbidden Corner critical acclaim and has made it one of the most popular attractions in North Yorkshire. Materiality is also important in the park, as most of the follies are created using stone and concrete, common materials used in garden design. Attention to detail was clearly important in the design. Many artists were commissioned to contribute to sculpture, fencing or signage for the site, with the aim of creating a haphazard and unpredictable aesthetic. Upon arrival to the Forbidden Corner, no map is provided but a visitor is given an illustrated checklist of all the strange sculptures and beings they may encounter on their visit. Griffins, bats, monsters, mice, golden geese and giants all feature along the labyrinthine journey. Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 63
Marketing Leaflet (Tourism Leaflets Online)
The creatures one encounters as you travel through the park are magnified by strange poems and inscriptions on stone walls and signs, designed to confuse and mystify. A maze starts by a sign that reads: Three paths lead off And out of sight In time youâ€™ll know Which one is right
Clearly the Forbidden Corner has employed a number of techniques to mislead and perplex its visitors. The designers have employed the use of many Surrealist principles to obtain these effects. For example, the warping of perspective takes place in an attraction named The Eye of the Needle, in which guests begin their journey down a dark underground tunnel towards an archway that reveals glimpses to trees beyond. Although not initially apparent, the tunnel narrows and shrinks dramatically forcing the visitor to squeeze themselves through the exit at the end. The abstraction of form is also apparent in the transition from an outside castle-like folly to an underground labyrinth. The castle is constructed of stone, with rough hewn wooden doors leading to different parts of the park. Upon opening one door in particular, a visitor is faced, not with the rough stones underfoot that they are used to, but a richly carpeted staircase, accompanied with banister and old-fashioned portraits hanging from the walls, that descends down into darkness. As you descend the stairs the unsettling environment is amplified by the sound of strange Latin whispering played through hidden speakers. At the foot of the stairs the carpet gives way to stone, which gives way to stream, which meets mining tunnel and the surreal experience continues throughout the entirety of the garden. You never really know if you are above ground or below, which adds to the total disorientation of your senses. Most doors you pass through, whether inside or out, underground or above, are one-way only, as denoted by the following poem that accompanies the doors: If youâ€™ve shut the door Tight in its frame Thereâ€™s no way back The way you came Plants, trees and shrubs have also been implemented cleverly within the design. Tall hedges disguise real paths that lead to grottoes and stone monsters, whilst a purpose-built maze, using yew hedges, includes whole sections of paths that are unconnected to the actual maze and only serve aesthetic purposes. Felled trees from the site are carved into sculptures for relocation throughout the park. Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 65
The juxtaposition of incompatible objects is rife throughout the park. For example, a building comes complete with face, moving eyes, a giant mouth serving as a door and a set of huge tonsils which burp and gargle as you walk past. This structure is reminiscent of the Ogni Pensiero Vola (All Reason Departs) folly at Bomarzo, created some 450 years earlier. The unpredictable ambience also adds to the surreal effect of the park. A mock graveyard gives the park a feeling of age and ancestry, and invites visitors in with caution. However, the morbid atmosphere is diffused with witty gravestone inscriptions. One headstone adorned with wires and switches reads Good Husband/Good Father/Lousy home electrician. Dark humour is a motif across the entire park. In the creation of the Forbidden Corner, Armstrong and Tempest have created a world comparable to the fantasy films of Willy Wonka, Labyrinth, the Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland. The popularity of the park is testament to its success as a public space.
Water Spray (Photo By John Dolan. 2013) The Face Tower (Photo by H.Murton. 2013) Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 66
Conceptualisation and Materiality Landscape conceptualism is a term that has been used since the mid 1990s as a way of describing design that is “characterised by the use of colour, artificial materials and witty commentary on a site’s history and culture” (Richardson, 2008). Conceptualism is also apparent in design that has a readable narrative, an attitude that “marks a significant departure from the functionalist imperatives of Modernism, the decorative or romantic tradition of the 19th and 20th centuries, and the avowedly naturalistic stance developed in recent years” (Richardson, 2008). For this reason it is included in this study as a format in which to explore materiality. The drastic departure from previous design values in conceptualism is comparable to the Surrealist Movement, which also sought to turn its back on current ideals and trends. Many landscape architects and designers now work under the umbrella term of conceptual landscape as a way of celebrating different design values within built form and the natural environment. Many of these designs often start out with a concept that the whole theme of the garden or space will then draw from. Not uncommon in other design practices, but most often, conceptualist spaces will be readable by the use of colour, form and materials. One such artist is Julia Barton. She is a sculptor and installation artist who is particularly interested in plants and natural forms, using both in the creation of her work. The exhibition Traces was part of a celebration of Elizabethan dance and costume in which Barton used wire, metal and organic plant matter to create abstract sculptures. This can be seen as a juxtaposition of materials, the metal and the plants form a union whilst also competing visually. In the same way that Thomas Church begins a project by removing preconceptions, Barton also works from a clean conceptualist point of view, “The basic theme of contrast which can be seen throughout her work, most clearly expressed in individual pieces, though it can be identified on a conceptual or imaginative level in the way that preconceptions about places or forms are ritually subverted in her work” (Richardson, 2008). Barton uses materials in a way that evokes the juxtaposition of unlikely objects and abstraction of form principally led by surrealist design. Julia Barton sculpture, part of the Traces exhibition (Photo By Salina Somalya.2008) Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 69
Another artist that uses plants and artificial materials in a creative way is Tony Heywood. His work is characterised by bright colour, shiny and sparkly materials, and the use of amorphous forms similar to the sculptures of Hans Arp. He uses a mixture of plants and man-made materials to challenge ideas about the meaning of landscape and nature. Heywood’s interest in the human psyche is integral to his approach, “‘I see the works I create as mindscapes as much as landscapes,’ he explains. Heywood creates representative worlds where the human mind meets ideas of landscape, ideas which may be idealized or romanticized, or just as likely - tinged with fear and apprehension” (Richardson. 2008). Using the landscape as a projection for human emotions is a theme within conceptual landscape design. Heywood chooses malleable materials in order to achieve the soft sweeping forms of his sculptures. He uses colour in a bold way to draw the eye to certain parts of his installations. The over-use of such bright colours sometimes makes the plants the most eye-catching part of the piece. The avoidance of the colour green elsewhere in his sculptures also draws attention to the organic matter he uses. Both the man-made materials and the plants he uses are bold in form and structure, creating obvious lines and curves to clearly define the shape if his work. He often uses the juxtaposition of straight lines and curves to create a dramatic visual impact, such as in Space Ritual (opposite photograph), in which the strong upright lines of the grasses are set against a backdrop of organic forms and shapes. His combination of different forms, textures, colours, shapes and sizes in a singular work challenges viewers to reconsider how they relate to the natural world. His work exemplifies conceptual landscape design, whilst also revealing some of the key Surrealist principles of design.
Space Ritual by Tony Heywood (contextualgardens.blogspot.co.uk/. 2010) Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 70
Whilst many artists use materials to impose surrealism upon a landscape, there are those who use the earth itself, as landform, as a way to create surreal spaces. Ivan Hicks, a garden designer, is best known as a landscape artist and uses level change within his projects. He worked with Edward James at both his Sussex mansion as well as helping James construct his ethereal work at Las Pozas. Since James’ death in 1984, Hicks has created award winning garden designs within the UK. Heavily influenced by Surrealism, Hicks’ work embodies many of the features commonly found in Surrealist work. Hicks employed the use of sculpted landform in his 1993 project Garden in Mind, as illustrated in the photograph opposite, to create a surreal groundscape upon which he can then place strange objects and sculptures. A review from the Independent in 1993 reads, “The influence of surrealism is everywhere as you look around this garden. The colourful, artistic planting is interrupted by visual jokes and weirdly puzzling images. ‘This is Derek,’ says Hicks, pointing out a naked shop dummy painted with a fantasy landscape including a maze, medieval tower and a classical temple reminiscent of Stourhead garden, in Wiltshire. Derek’s mate Claudia is a female mannequin, painted with blue sky, fluffy clouds and the vapour trails of aeroplanes” (inclusionmark.co.uk) Charles Jencks, a famous landscape architect, also works mostly with the use of sculpted landform. His 1989 Garden of Cosmic Speculation is renown for its sweeping hills and abstract landforms, accompanied by surreal sculptures and water bodies to create a garden based on the mixture of mathematics and science. A more recent project, Northumberlandia, see’s Jencks create a 1.5million tonne earth sculpture that depicts a woman reclining on her back. Whether it is small scale landform or large scale, the use of the earth as a canvas for creating a surreal atmosphere has been employed by these designers successfully, as well as being a soft material from which plants and trees can then grown and populate the space. These designs are ever changing with the seasons and over time.
Garden in Mind by Ivan Hicks (ivanhicks.co.uk) Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 73
ABOVE: Derek and Claudia, Garden in Mind by Ivan Hicks (ivanhicks.co.uk) OPPOSITE TOP: The Garden of Cosmic Speculation by Charles Jencks (charlesjencks.com) OPPOSITE BOTTOM: Northumberlandia by Charles Jencks (onefootinnorthumberland.co.uk)
Claude Cormier is a landscape architect, famed for his conceptualist approach to design, who believes that a naturalistic approach to design is fundamentally dishonest as it denies the artificiality of the design process (Richardson. 2008). As testament to this, Cormierâ€™s interventions often include the use of man-made materials not commonly associated with landscape design. Seen here at both Blue Tree in Sonoma and Pergola in Le Havre in France, Cormierâ€™s use of brightly coloured Christmas baubles adorns the sites creating a whimsical and surreal nature.
Blue Tree and Pergola (Photos from claudecormer.com)
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Materials serve an important function in the creation of surreal space. The way they are treated as well as the actual design can have a significant impact on how a space is perceived. As Cormier and Heywood demonstrate, the juxtaposition of two contrasting materials alone is enough to create a surreal sensation, and the playfulness of form and shape can contribute to a perceived reaction. Quantity of materials is also important. In Bartonâ€™s work the repetition of two basic materials forces the viewer to consider a relationship between them. Cormier, however, uses large quantities of the same material to overwhelm a space, and imbue it with a dream-like quality that adds to the surreal atmosphere. The idea of form over function is also very important here. In these cases, a landscape with an intended function is not the objective, or at least not the primary objective. The main difference between conceptualism and functionalism is that an idea is the driving force of a conceptual space. The design inspiration is ultimately more important that the intended use or decorative appeal. Whilst this may lead to the idea that these spaces do not have a function, the opposite is very often the case. Some landscape design may fall into the category of public art to be consumed for its aesthetic purpose alone, whilst others function as a public spaces, parks or gardens. Form over function also invites a greater variety of creative use. In the creation of space that deviates from the municipal norm, designers invite and empower users to decide upon their own creative function, perhaps using the space in a way which was previously unprecedented. A good example of this is the Blue Carpet streetscape design by Thomas Heatherwick. Initially designed to link the Laing Art Gallery to the centre of Newcastle, the form of a blue carpet was installed to cover the street and curve up where it met buildings and street furniture. Whilst a success in the form of the design, the project received criticism after many skateboarders and roller-bladers took to using the skewed floorscape as ramps. In this way the function of the street consequently was altered by the creativity of the users, who saw potential in the physical form.
Blue Carpet (Photos by Vintage Lulu. 2009) Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 78
The lack of surreal spaces within urban cities can perhaps be attributed to the abundance of art that resides within the public realm. Public art strategies are commonplace within new developments and existing city spaces, as they attract tourism, footfall, create interest for visitors and can increase economic revitalization. The placement of public art within city spaces can transform a normal experience into something more strange and interesting. Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor is an excellent example of one piece of public art creating a surreal space in downtown Chicago. Its highly reflective mirrored surface reflects the Chicago skyline, but the curved nature of the shape, inspired by liquid mercury, warps and twists the reflections, creating a distorted version of the cityscape. The sculpture has received critical acclaim and is a popular tourist attraction. In just one sculpture, Kapoor has managed to create a surreal space. The benefit of using public art to create surreal spaces within cities is that they wonâ€™t disrupt the fundamental use and function of a space. Whilst surreal places are intended to confuse and disorientate, public art can simply be a way of entertaining visitors without disrupting the use of the space around them. In this way, public art can achieve what surreal spaces seek to achieve, which results in a lack of surreal spaces in city environments.
Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor (Where Art Meets Fashion. 2012)
CHAPTER FOUR From Study to Design
We have seen how principles of Surrealism have permeated landscape design both before and after the Movement. One conclusion that can be drawn from the chronology of the sites looked at, is that landscape conceptualism and surrealism both appear to be 20th and 21st Century trends, with only a few anomalous examples taking place prior to the movement. We can also ascertain that principles of surrealist art are transferable to different disciplines, such as landscape, with ease. Though the manifestation takes place in different mediums, the perception of spaces and art can be strikingly similar. Both the Surrealists and many landscape designers seek to confuse, disorientate, mystify and inspire, whilst creating a dream-like atmosphere. The case studies covered serve to illustrate the variety of ways in which the principles of Surrealism can be employed to create successful spaces within the landscape. They can manifest within large scale projects, such as Gaudiâ€™s Parc Guell, or in relatively small pieces, such as Tony Heywoodâ€™s sculptures. They can be public spaces such as the Forbidden Corner, or private such as the gardens at Bomarzo were intended to be. The fact that these places have existed and continue to be designed in contemporary sites suggests that they appeal to the public, and have a place and purpose in society. The creation of surreal spaces in landscape architecture can be broken down into six broad aspects: IDEA The formation of an idea or concept is the fundamental keystone for a surreal design. Many surreal spaces deal with the exploration of human emotions, an introverted look into the human psyche or engaging with abstract concepts. LAYOUT/FORM/SHAPE The juxtaposition of conflicting shapes and forms serve to make a space unpredictable or surprising. Shapes can be abstract or allude to reality, to become thought provoking. Layout can be employed to create an atmosphere that is at one moment distressing and at another serene, and can exacerbate or mitigate an atmosphere of apprehension or peace. Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 84
SIZE/SCALE Messing with the nature and reality of size and scale can have a surreal effect on a viewer immediately. The gigantification of objects, or the shrinking of spaces can both play with spatial awareness and perception. MATERIALS Different materials can have an impact on how a design looks aesthetically as well as how it feels. They can add or detract from the authenticity of a space, perhaps being obviously artificial, or treated to create an atmosphere akin to reality. The clashing of materials has a surreal effect, especially in the use of both man-made materials and organic matter. Colour is vital, as the use of contrasting or unnatural colours can contribute to how a piece or site is experienced. PERCEPTION/REACTION Surreal design intends to be conspicuous and candid. It is thought provoking and aims to entice a reaction. Designs encourage the visitor or viewer to question the nature of reality, and ask them to interact with a space in a way that is uncomfortable or unnatural. With no specific audience established at the start of the design, surreal landscape is a very personal and self-involved statement. The designer does not need to comply with guidelines, or abide by a client or brief. Their impression on the landscape is wholly creative and personal to them. However, others can still enjoy the same space or intervention, perhaps with a slightly different reaction. This personal style will be fundamental to the next stage of the project: the design study.
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Introduction to the Design Study The design side of this project aims to apply the principles of Surrealism and conceptual landscape design in order to create personal interventions on a series of spaces. The spaces will be located along a randomly generated pedestrian route through London. London is a busy and vibrant city, with a rich art culture and plenty of landscaped spaces that occupy some of the busiest areas of the capital. As in all major cities, a subculture of guerrilla art and design flourishes in London, creating spaces that may appear to subvert the normal cityscape. Other areas of London, such as the cityâ€™s financial district, are more sterile and conservative in their appearance. The choice of London for this study is due to the variety of spaces a pedestrian can experience in a relatively short space of time. One can wander through old cobbled streets, past sleek office buildings, through residential estates, along the river bank and through parks within a couple of hours. The dynamics of this setting make for a potentially diverse series of spaces for surreal interventions to take place. By having a walking route, as opposed to other means of transport, the interventions can be more intimate and potentially more thought provoking. The process of generating the design takes on more importance in this project and will be unlike any design-process Iâ€™ve undertaken before. From the Surrealists we have inherited a wide range of techniques that aim to channel subconscious thought in both individual and collaborative ways. Playing with these techniques may generate a more genuine end product. This design study is a self-involved project that aims to sequin Londonâ€™s cityscape with pockets of surreal landscaping. With no real client in mind, I am able to invent a brief that suits this study. Restrictions associated with planning permission, health and safety and construction will be open to interpretation. My focus is to design interventions that I feel would aesthetically and emotionally benefit the users (regular commuters and accidental traffic), and potentially attract visitors.
A Surreal View: Artist Leandro Erlich has created an illusionary house in Dalston, East London. The work has the facade of a Victorian terraced house reflected in a huge mirror. By sitting, standing or lying on the horizontal surface, visitors appear to be scaling or hanging off the side of the building (Telegraph Online. 2013) Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 88
London Public Art In order to associate myself with public art and interventions within London, I visited some of the temporary installations taking place this year in the Capital. The organisation Better Bankside is a non-profit consortium that aims to improve space on the Thames riverside by implementing area promotion, events, business links, management and sustainability services. One area that Better Bankside is involved in is the intervention of temporary pop-up art installations. The Lake, by company EXYZT, is a new temporary intervention taking place at 100 Union Street in London. EXYZT are a “collective of architects, carpenters, cooks, graphic designers, photographers, gardeners and more, who take unused urban land, inhabit it, and open it up to the public and local community” (Better Bankside. 2013) The space offers a shallow boating lake for inflatables, a sunbathing deck, a paddling pool and juice bar. The Lake seems surreal in its placement, along a main road in the heart of Southwark, as well as the pure fact that it is a purpose built lake in the middle of the city. As part of the London Design Festival, taking place in September 2013, The American Hardwood Export Council partnered with the Festival created the Endless Stair, a timber sculpture residing outside the Tate Modern Gallery. The intervention embodies the Escher-inspired principles of the surreal and creates a free-standing structure which can be climbed via a number of entrances. The top staircase allows views across the river to St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the glass balustrade blocking the fall below is reminiscent of some of the staircases at Las Pozas, that end in nothing. The City of London, the Capital’s financial district, is somewhat conservative in its appearance. As the centre of commerce, the buildings are sleek and modern, with formal cityscape at ground level. The organisation Sculpture in the City provide year-long installations of public art to create interest at ground level for workers, commuters and visitors. This year saw the inclusion of many famous artists, including Anthony Gormley’s work Parallel Field (1990), whose cast-iron humanoid vessels are “a foil to the flow of human bodies on the street” (City of London.2013). These interventions throughout a range of spaces in London, serves to contextualise the design stage of my project, into creating surrealist interventions in the capital. Photographs by H.Murton, 2013.Top: The Lake. Bottom left: Endless Staircase. Bottom Right: Parallel Field Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 90
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Engaging with Surrealism In order to begin the design study part of this project, I began to try some theories and practices that the Surrealists employed during the movement. I started with collaborative experiments, using people around me to try the cadvre exquis game in both writing and drawing. The results of such a collaboration, of between 8 and 10 people, are reflected in the photograph opposite. I asked for the volunteers to draw a single line in each segment of the paper without taking the pen off the page, and then to fold down the paper and pass it to the person sitting next to them, who was required to do the same. The result is like a series of small drawings, reflecting the diversity of each person. In a similar game, of my own invention, myself and four others wrote down many characters, locations and actions on individual slips of paper, separated them out into three cups and mixed up the slips. We then each selected one from each tumbler and then had five minutes in which to draw the particular event that the paper was describing. We had ‘God, free falling, between a rock and hard place’, ‘Salvador Dali, mud snorkelling, on the dark side of my brain’ and ‘three ninjas, flying a tractor, underneath the stars’, as examples of things to draw. The experiments were fun as well as showing how simple it is to engage with the practices of the Surrealists. Some of my initial thoughts are recorded on the following pages.
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I am thinking of expressions. How to say something without being literal.
to be a fly on the wall...
Expressions in the public realm...
The Walk The walking route I took through central London was dictated by three factors: The beginning point at Waterloo Station, the end point at Aldgate East, and the mid-point of St Paulâ€™s Cathedral. All other routes were incidental and chosen at random. I travelled through spaces both hard and soft, small and large, busy and quiet, old and new, which provided me with a diverse range of spaces to study.
Throughout the route I came across numerous small and large unused spaces that appeared to me as opportunities for intervention. The spaces that attracted me most during the walk were the narrow alleyways and paths that I came across accidentally. The wet weather added to the confined and nondescript nature of these spaces, and my mind immediately began thinking of ways to enliven them and make them more appealing for the users.
The Spaces The first space that inspired me was the underpass between Waterloo station and the Royal Festival Hall on the Southbank. The area under the railway bridge has been paved in high quality granite, and is used as a main thoroughfare for commuters, pedestrians and tourists. It is a key route between main transport links such as the Underground, railway and bus station and the Thames. The width and height of the space underneath the railway offers an opportunity for a large intervention to take place. The use of the metal rafters give it an industrial feel which is compounded by the atmospheric contrast of light and dark. My immediate thoughts are of bright colours and grandeur, to embrace the space and act as a welcome gate to the Southbank. The spaces I was continually drawn to were smaller spaces and alleyways adjacent to the main thoroughfares. Consequently, most of the places I have chosen for the design study are narrow pathways between buildings, structures or trees. Despite alleys being an intrinsic part of the cityscape they tend to be less visually stimulating, neglected and can appear to be a more threatening environment for a pedestrian. The potential they offer is worthy of further investigation.
Location plan: Bing Maps 2013. Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 102
Photographs by H.Murton 2013
Space Two The second space that caught my attention is a wide dead-end road just off Lower Marsh Lane. A daily market makes this area busy and vibrant although the road is used only for access to the back of Waterloo Station and the adjoining railway lines. The old cobbles imbue the space with a sense of history, while the patched areas of tarmac create an air of dereliction. Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 104
This office building on Union Street already plays with your depth of perception due to the narrowing triangular space created by the angle of the building and the ground. The overall wedge effect and the visual impact of windows sinking into the ground is both aesthetically stimulating and intriguing. The change in size and the warped depth of perception this space offers will be a starting point for a surrealist intervention. Space Three
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Space Four This narrow alleyway links two main thoroughfares that run north towards the Thames in Southwark. The bollards at either end reveal this space is for pedestrian use only. However, the presence of moss and lichen suggests a lack of use throughout this space. This space offers an excellent opportunity for public art, which would transform the dereliction to a place of life, colour and vibrancy, and consequently may entice more traffic. Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 106
The copse of birch trees outside the Tate Modern Gallery is a recognisable feature from the Southbank of London. The trees are densely planted in narrow rows around the gallery. Tracks cutting across this feature show that pedestrians have walked through it. The two spaces on this page can be considered as inversions of the same form. Both are long and narrow, and are used by pedestrians,however, whilst and alley is defined by the buildings that surround it, the strip of birch trees is a feature that defines the space either side of it, and furthermore, acts as the transition between surface treatments. Space Five
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Space Six St. Peterâ€™s Alley is a historic path within the City of London, and connects two main roads, Cornhill and Gracechurch Street. Despite its location and the fact that it acts as a short-cut between these roads, it did not appear to be frequently used. A temporary or pop-up installation here may serve to remind pedestrians of the short-cut and attract visitors in. By placing public art in unlikely and unpopulated spaces, we can re-brand these purely functional areas as destinations of interest. Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 108
It seems that more often than not alleyways provide links to main thoroughfares as their primary function and offer little else to the passing pedestrian. A city such as London, which was built over centuries of human occupation, has miles of alleys and narrow paths connecting spaces. What attracts me to these spaces is the idea that although they are essential, they are not enjoyed. My goal with this design project is to draw people in, take them off the beaten path make them linger in colourful worlds that serve as a respite from the urban cityscape. Using surrealist design to enhance the spaces between buildings, under bridges and in between trees will attract visitors and promote these places from thoroughfares to destinations in their own right. Hopefully, these interventions will engender discussion, reaction and contemplation and make a functional space conspicuous and enjoyable. Investing in this kind of public art is beneficial to cities for a number of reasons. Firstly, it redirects footfall to quieter areas and encourages visitors to discover parts of London they had never thought to visit. Consequently, this relieves busy routes from some of their foot traffic, and also sends pedestrians past businesses and shops that they may not ordinarily pass, thus providing economic benefits. Art in alleys is a concept that can manifest itself in may forms and benefit a wide section of the community; from permanent interventions to temporary or pop-up installations, the design process could involve charities, schools, local residents, local authorities and community figureheads. Visitors from elsewhere would be attracted to visit the strange and surreal spaces that colour the capitalâ€™s less-travelled routes.
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Case Studies London has embraced its smaller spaces in recent times, and is beginning to explore the concept of alleyways and narrow paths as a place for art and design to flourish. One example of this is Steelyard Passage, on the Thames Walk, an artist-led regeneration project by The Facility Architects. The passage was originally used for motorcycle parking and as a refuse area by local businesses, as well as attracting rough sleepers. It was ignored by pedestrians as it was considered to be dark, noisy and uninviting. The Facility Architects created a strategy for the improvement of the space, working in conjunction with artists, lighting designers and the public. The resulting space now offers a clean and welcoming environment for pedestrians. The lighting design, by Firefly Lighting, was based on the River Thames, and creates a soft and embracing atmosphere across the alley. Another case study that exemplifies new alleyway design is Plantation Lane by Arup Asssociates: “The City of London is known for its twisting alleyways. But while many have been there since Medieval times, Plantation Lane has only existed since 2005. Tranquil and ethereal, this new piece of public art creates a unique pathway through one of the oldest parts of London... We wanted the path in some way to bridge this gap between present and past, one vision to celebrate time and place. We also wanted it to be both functional and emotional – a tranquil place for people to escape from the nearby hustle and bustle of the city” (Arup Associates. N.D.) The new alleyway incorporated public art, lighting, landscape design and architecture to create a welcoming space for pedestrians to pass through. Lighting and poetry, made out of bespoke stone, are recessed into the paving, reflecting the history of the area and drawing the eye to the floorscape. These case studies highlight the value that art and design within landscape can have on small narrow spaces within the city, by improving access and creating destinations for pedestrians. Photographs - TOP: Steelyard Passage (The Facility Architects Online. 2013) BOTTOM: Plantation Lane (Arup Associates Online. N.D) Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 110
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The Design Process and Interventions Before looking at the individual spaces, it was important to experiment with the Surrealist techniques of illusionism and automatism. I began with the automatic drawing of lines, which involves drawing without any form or final shape in mind. The spaces illustrated opposite are all sketches that began in this way and were later finished to produce to coherent interventions that use abstract forms. The sketches below are based on illusionism, which encompasses absurd juxtapositions and metamorphosis. In designing these surreal and incongruous landscapes that would inhabit the cityâ€™s alleys, I hope to attract pedestrians to areas they do not ordinarily use or notice. The absurdity of these interventions would ignite interest in forgotten parts of the public realm. After exploring some of these more abstract ideas, the next stage required designing within the parameters of each chosen space, as illustrated on the following pages.
water...to act as a gateway towards the T h a m e s
one invest in COLOUR
r a i n b o w
d r o p s
c o l o u s c u l p t u r a l o f r a i n b o w
w a r p i n g
f u l d r o p s
p e r s p e c t i v e
ABSTRACTION OF FORM
inspiration from the fruit market
juxtaposition of unrelated objects: fruit and street or d f oo
...the gigantification of fruit...
getting lost in fruit
can you crawl in fruit? can you jump on fruit? can you get inside fruit? can you walk on fruit? can you run on fruit? can you climb on fruit? can you sing inside fruit? can fruit bend? can fruit be on the street?
space connecting warping of space and perspective
nature contrasting colours
organic matter and metal in harmony
in c o n g ru e n t m a te a ri ls
a jungle pouring into the street...
to encounter dreams in the real world
stumble u p o n a dream p l a c e
n a t u r a l
f o r m s
the use of nonnaturalistic colour in a natural setting
space u n n a t u r a l
s i z e a space for children to learn and play
s c u r r y
lighted paths - snail trails
spotlight on movement
playing with light
projections onto the floor
reacting to movements
canopy with projected light beams
creating a colourful light intervention on the alley... playful shadows and hues embrace pedestrians, and interactive features allow for dynamic interest
These six landscape interventions were borne out of a desire to design lively and colourful spaces across inner city London. The process of design required me to experiment with some of the Surrealist principles and theories that I had studied during the first part of the project. I approached each space using either illusionism or automatism as part of the process. The aim of the design interventions was to create spaces that I felt the city lacks, and that would entice and excite passers by. I do not believe that we are confronted enough with strange or surreal spaces in our daily lives, and I feel more of these spaces would benefit the cityscape. Public art benefits the economy, encourages community cohesion, increases public footfall, promotes artists, creates safer places and increases property values. I believe we can use the intervention of surreal space to achieve the same ends. The benefit of pop-up or temporary installations also helps to increase traffic to spaces that pedestrians would not usually visit. In creating destination spots in alleyways within the city, we are highlighting an alternate use for these less appealing spaces, and beginning to encourage people to use them more regularly. The potential for intervention in spaces such as alleyways, narrow walkways and spaces under bridges in London is vast. Projects such as these six interventions can transform these spaces to be safer and family-friendly. It is designs such as these that can change preconceptions of a space and can allow for a more positive future of continued use. Space One creates a gateway feature for the Southbank of the River Thames, on the main thoroughfare between Waterloo Bus and Rail Station and the river bank. Based loosely on the concept of water droplets, these highly reflective colourful amorphous shapes distort the reflections of the cityscape and of passers by, giving a glimpse into an upside-down world. Similarly, Space Six, uses light displays and projections to make St. Peterâ€™s Alley come alive. The beams and projections are triggered by pedestrians and create an interactive destination space filled with colour. These previously dark sites have been transformed by these interventions to become a landing place for visitors. Spaces Three and Four are both more intensive landscape interventions. A swamp dominates an alley in Space Three, whilst a jungle encroaches onto the pavement in Space Four. Both of these Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 140
interventions are products of illusionism, an introverted expression of thought onto the landscape. They involve the juxtaposition of contrasting elements, the city versus nature, in a way that is blunt and candid. The surreality of these spaces jumps out from the cityscape and demands attention from passers-by. Spaces Two and Four, the giant apple and the oversized insects, offer valuable play opportunities for children. Both spaces exhibit a gigantification of natural forms, which encourages tactile interaction. The strangeness of these products would appeal on an aesthetic level and create photo opportunities for visitors. Play is one major benefit of all these interventions, not just for children but for adults too. By encountering giant insects or fruit, or playing with colourful light shadows and reflections, we are encouraging sensory experiences and giving people a reason to pause in their journey. Using both natural and man-made materials brings a new dimension to the city fabric, and creates opportunities for tactile interactions between the public and the landscape. The use of plants and trees within these designs also softens the hard landscape of the city, and introduces greenery where there previously was none. However, the practicality of many of these interventions would need to be assessed. During this process I chose to disregard construction and planning law, in an attempt to create in the way that the Surrealists did. Entertaining questions such as how will this be built? and will this be granted planning? would have compromised the fundamental values of this project. It is worth noting that this design project was a self-indulgent study. The study was one that I am genuinely interested in; it has allowed me to experiment with design that I feel would benefit the city and its inhabitants. I believe that these interventions are feasible in the real world and surrealist interventions would be welcomed in the public realm today.
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CHAPTER SEVEN Conclusions
During this project I researched the history of Surrealism and surrealist influences within landscape architecture. Whilst surrealism is a genre that spans many mediums and has a significant presence in art, architecture and literature, it was interesting to note that there are few sources that relate specifically to landscape surrealism. Despite an absence in the literature, the research did in fact reveal that some of the key principles of Surrealism were apparent in landscape and garden design, both before and after the Movement. One of the aims of this project was to reconcile the worlds between dreaming and waking, conscious and subconscious. What I have found most valuable is that this study has demonstrated how this is possible within landscape architecture. There are many designers who are practicing in a conceptual way, in order to create more unique places for people to encounter. The historical use of surrealist elements in garden design, such as grottoes and follies, proves that these sort of spaces were always welcome in society. Interestingly, some of these spaces seem to have been, for the most part, enjoyed retrospectively. It was only after the deaths of Cheval and Orcini, for example, that people began to take a genuine interest in the places they had created. However, contemporary sites, such as the Forbidden Corner, suggest an increased interest and tolerance for the surreal. Accolades such as the Turner Prize are awarded for conceptual artwork and are a permanent fixture on our cultural calendar, proving that surrealism and conceptualism still have a place in the public domain. One of the many benefits of these spaces is the diversity they introduce to the public realm. This study has shown how this can be achieved through both public art and landscaped interventions, and is worthy of investment. Public art is a concept that is either part of a strategic plan within new developments, or is added as an afterthought in an attempt to promote a positive change to an existing landscape. I believe it is essential to consider these aspects from the very conception of a project, and allow the idea to be the driving force behind the design. Functionality of a space is of course salient, but too often it sacrifices or compromises design.
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Both the research study and the design project allowed me to step into a world that I am greatly interested in. It has been rewarding to research some of the temporary and permanent projects that contemporary architects and designers are producing. The research into conceptual landscape architecture was particularly inspiring, as so many designers are applying surrealist principles in their work. The public approval for conceptual landscape architecture shows that surrealism has grown beyond a self-involved practice, and has tapped into our cultural Zeitgeist.
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Literary References Andersen, HL (2011) The Serpentine bench Trencadis style [Online]. Available from <http://www. flickr.com/photos/hlandersen/5906585909/> [Accessed 30 August 2013]. Armstrong, C (2001) Behind the Forbidden Corner. Tupgill Park: The Forbidden Corner. Art and Architecture (n.d.) The Sacred Grove of Bomarzo [Online]. Available from <http://www. artandarchitecture.org.uk/insight/stonard_bomarzo/stonard_bomarzo01.html> [Accessed 22 August 2013]. Arup Associates (n.d.) Plantation Lane [Online] Available from <http://www.arupassociates.com/ en/case-studies/plantation-lane/> [Accessed 26 September 2013]. Better Bankside (2013) The Lake, Union Street [Online.] Available from < http://www.betterbankside. co.uk/buf/the-lake-union-street> [Accessed 19 Spetember 2013]. Breton, A (1924) Manifesto of Surrealism [Online]. Available from <http://www.tcf.ua.edu/Classes/ Jbutler/T340/SurManifesto/ManifestoOfSurrealism.htm> [Accessed 12 August 2013]. Breton, A (1926) Légitime Défense. Quoted in Klingsohr-Leroy, C (2004) Surrealism. Hohenzollernring: Taschen. Biography Online (2013) Antoni Gaudí biography [Online]. Available from <http://www.biography. com/people/antoni-gaud%C3%AD-40695> [Accessed 30 August 2013]. City of London (2013) About the Artwork and Artists [Online]. Available from <http://www. cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/visiting-the-city/attractions-museums-and-galleries/sculpture-inthe-city/Pages/descriptions-of-artworks.aspx> [Accessed 19 September 2013]. Church, T (n.d.) Landscape Surrealism. Quoted in Mical, T. eds. (2005) Surrealism and Architecture. Oxen: Routledge. Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 146
Definition of Surreal (2013) Oxford Dictionaries [Online]. Available from <http://oxforddictionaries. com/definition/english/surreal?q=surreal> [Accessed 02 August 2013]. Destination360 (2013) Park Guell [Online]. Available from <http://www.destination360.com/europe/ spain/barcelona/guell-park> [Accessed 30 August 2013]. Fondo Xilitla (2008) The Official Website for Las Pozas & Edward James [Online]. Available from <http://www.xilitla.org/index.php> [Accessed 06 September 2013]. Gaudi, A (n.d.) Antoni Gaudi Quotes [Online]. Available from <http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/ authors/a/antonio_gaudi.html> [Accessed 30 August 2013]. The Independent (1993) Quoted in Inclusion Quality Mark (n.d.) Inset, changing views [Online]. Available from <http://www.inclusionmark.co.uk/index.php/learningteaching/inset-changing-views> [Accessed 19 September 2013]. James, E (1978) Quoted in Melly, G (1978) The Secret Life of Edward James [Online Video]. Available from <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0oosdgHLTGY> [Accessed 06 September 2013]. Klingsohr-Leroy, C (2004) Surrealism. Hohenzollernring: Taschen. Lambton, L (2013) Quoted in Painshill Online (2013) Lady Lucinda Lambton places the last crystal in the Grotto [Online]. Available from <http://www.painshill.co.uk/news/lady-lucindalambton-places-the-last-crystal-in-the-grotto/> [Accessed 29 August 2013]. Magallanes, F (2005) Landscape Surrealism. Quoted in Mical, T. eds. (2005) Surrealism and Architecture. Oxen: Routledge.
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Mail Online (2013) Inside the crystal cave: Enchanting 18th century grotto is unveiled after year-long restoration [Online]. Available from <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2344625/ Enchanting-18th-century-crystal-grotto-unveiled-year-restoration-project.html> [Accessed 29 August 2013]. Matthews, JH (1975) Fifty Years Later: The Manifesto of Surrealism, Twentieth Century Literature, 21, 1, p. 1, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 23 August 2013. Richardson, T. eds.(2000) The Garden Book. London: Phaidon Press Limited. Richardson, T (2008) Avant Gardeners. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd. Rosemont, F (1977) What is Surrealism? [Online]. Available from <http://www.amazon.co.uk/ What-Surrealism-Selected-Andre-Breton/dp/0873488229> [Accessed 21 August 2013]. Roux-Parassa, E (1904) Ferdinand Chevalâ€™s Palace [Online] Available from <http://www. facteurcheval.com/en/history/palace.html> [Accessed 29 August 2013]. Tate Online (2004) Autumn Cannibalism [Online] Available from <http://www.tate.org.uk/art/ artworks/dali-autumnal-cannibalism-t01978/text-display-caption> [Accessed 12 August 2013]. Telegraph Online (2013) A Surreal View [Online]. Available from <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/ news/10141012/Artist-Leandro-Erlich-creates-an-illusionary-Victorian-house-in-east-London. html?frame=2599455> [Accessed 12 September 2013]. Thumbprint Gallery (2011) The Two Faces of Surrealism: Illusionism and Automatism [Online] Available from <http://thumbprintgallery.blogspot.co.uk/2011/01/two-faces-of-surrealism-illusionismand.html> [Accessed 15 August 2013]. Quaedam Online (2009) Jacek Yerka [Online] Available from <http://quaedam.wordpress. com/2009/05/22/wallpaper-of-the-week-jacek-yerka/l> [Accessed 15 August 2013]. Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 148
Unknown (n.d.) Surreal Eden: Edward James & Las Pozas [Online] Available from <http://archive. is/YmkMb> [Accessed 06 September 2013]. Vitruvius (27 B.C) On Architecture [Online] Available from <http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews. ac.uk/Biographies/Vitruvius.html> [Accessed 21 August 2013]. Wapniak, S (2006) How did Antoni Gaudi use sequence, harmony, and symbolism to connect the Greek Theater with the other elements and spaces of Park G端ell? [Online] Available from <http://www.esf.edu/la/studyabroad/ocp/OCP_2006_07/documents/Wapniak_main_study_2007. pdf> [Accessed 30 August 2013].
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Image References A Surreal View (2013) [Online image]. Available from <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/10141012/ Artist-Leandro-Erlich-creates-an-illusionary-Victorian-house-in-east-London.html?frame=2599455> [Accessed 12 September 2013]. A warped arched walkway [Private Photograph]. H.Murton (2013). Au Rendez-vous des amis (1922) [Online image]. Available from <http://www.flickriver.com/photos/ kraftgenie/sets/72157624686557384/> [Accessed 12 August 2013]. Autumn Cannibalism (1936) [Online image]. Available from <http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/ dali-autumnal-cannibalism-t01978> [Accessed 15 August 2013]. Bagel Garden Martha Schwartz (2011) [Online image]. Available from <http://www.thenational.ae/ lifestyle/house-home/time-for-uae-gardeners-to-think-beyond-plants> [Accessed 30 August 2013]. Blue Carpet (2009) [Online image]. Available harcourt/3500766485/> [Accessed 07 September 2013].
Blue Trees (2004) [Online image]. Available from <http://www.claudecormier.com/project/blue-tree> [Accessed 07 September 2013]. Cloud Gate (2012) [Online image]. Available from <http://whereartmeetsfashion.wordpress. com/2012/11/11/collaboration-flashback-bulgari-anish-kapoor/> [Accessed 19 September 2013]. Derek and Claudia (n.d.) [Online image]. Available from <http://www.ivanhicks.co.uk/photo1944580. html#photo> [Accessed 19 September 2013]. Documentary Stills (1978) The Secret Life of Edward James [Online video]. Available from <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0oosdgHLTGY> [Accessed 06 September 2013]. Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 150
The Elephant of Celebes (1921) [Online image]. Available from <http://paintingdb.com/s/9493/> [Accessed 12 August 2013]. Endless Staircase [Private Photograph]. H.Murton (2013). The entrance to Parc Guell [Private Photograph]. H.Murton (2013). Exquisite Corpse (2000) [Online image]. Available from <http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/ chapman-chapman-exquisite-corpse-p78470> [Accessed 12 August 2013]. The Face Tower [Private Photograph]. H.Murton (2013). The famous Lizard sculpture (2004) [Online image]. Available from <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ File:Reptil_Parc_Guell_Barcelona.jpg> [Accessed 30 August 2013]. Garden in Mind (n.d.) [Online image]. Available from <http://www.ivanhicks.co.uk/photo1944569. html> [Accessed 19 September 2013]. The Garden of Cosmic Speculation (n.d.) [Online image]. Available from <http://0.static.wix.com/ media/174c3f_e019b0ca5203232498cbc732f5732a76.jpg_1024> [Accessed 19 September 2013]. Gare Montparnasse (The Melancholy of Departure) (1914) [Online image]. Available from <http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/giorgio-de-chirico/gare-montparnasse-the-melancholy-ofdeparture-1914> [Accessed 12 August 2013]. Gate details in metalwork [Private Photograph]. H.Murton (2013). Julia Barton sculpture, part of the Traces exhibition (2008) [Online image]. Available from <http:// www.flickr.com/photos/ssartwork/2717150723/> [Accessed 07 September 2013]. Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 151
The Key to Dreams (1927) [Online image]. Available from <http://dreamartists.wordpress. com/2008/12/04/magritte-key-to-dreams-1927/> [Accessed 12 August 2013]. The Lake [Private Photograph]. H.Murton (2013). Las Pozas (2010) [Online image]. Available from <http://tejiendoelmundo.wordpress.com/2010/09/28/ las-pozas-de-xilitla-el-surrealismo-selvatico-de-edward-james/> [Accessed 06 September 2013]. Leaning structures by Vicino Orcini at Bomarzo (2008) [Online image]. Available from <http:// www.casasantapia.com/images/gardens/bomarzo.htm> [Accessed 21 August 2013]. Lobster Telephone (1934) [Online image]. Available from <http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/ dali-lobster-telephone-t03257> [Accessed 12 August 2013]. Maps for Spaces (n.d.) [Online image]. Available from <http://bing.com/maps> [Accessed 20 September 2013]. Marketing Leaflet (n.d.) [Online image]. Available from <http://www.tourismleafletsonline.com/pdfs/ The-Forbidden-Corner-Leaflet.pdf> [Accessed 06 September 2013]. Neptune in the Sacro Bosco at Bomarzo (n.d.) [Online image]. Available from <http://www.flickr. com/photos/ianmiddletonphotography/1249302411/sizes/m/in/photostream/> [Accessed 22 August 2013]. Northumberlandia (n.d.) [Online image]. Available from <http://www.onefootinnorthumberland. co.uk/NORTHUMBERLANDIA.htm> [Accessed 19 September 2013]. Ogni Pensiero Vola (All Reason Departs) (2005) [Online image]. Available from <http://www. flickriver.com/photos/afeman/22243431/> [Accessed 21 August 2013]. Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 152
Orange Grove (n.d.) [Online image]. Available from <http://www.yerkaland.com/item.php?ido=63> [Accessed 15 August 2013]. The Pagoda (2012) [Online image]. Available from <http://mytravelphotos.net/category/london/ page/2/> [Accessed 22 August 2013]. Painshill Grotto (2013) [Online image]. Available from <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/ gardenstovisit/10159553/The-glorious-restoration-of-Painshill-Parks-grotto.html> [Accessed 29 August 2013]. Palais Ideal (n.d.) [Online image]. Available from <http://www.facteurcheval.com/en/home.html> [Accessed 29 August 2013]. Parallel Field [Private Photograph]. H.Murton (2013). Pergola (2006) [Online image]. Available from <http://www.claudecormier.com/project/pergola/> [Accessed 07 September 2013]. Photograph of Cheval in front of Le Palais Ideal after construction (n.d.) [Online image]. Available from <http://www.facteurcheval.com/en/history/postman.html> [Accessed 29 August 2013]. Plantation Lane (n.d.) [Online image]. Available from <http://www.arupassociates.com/en/casestudies/plantation-lane/> [Accessed 26 September 2013]. Pool at Donnell Gardens (2012) [Online image]. Available from <http://blackwalnutdispatch. com/2012/03/19/are-garden-designers-artists/l> [Accessed 30 August 2013]. Pozas Planters (2010) [Online image]. Available from <http://www.midwesternerinmexico. com/2010/03/08/las-pozas-a-jungly-wonderland-in-xilitla-mexico/pozas-planters/> [Accessed 06 September 2013]. Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 153
Smell the Coffee (2001) [Online image]. Available from <http://agonistica.com/artist-andphotographer-storm-thorgerson-dead-at-69/> [Accessed 12 August 2013]. Space One [Private Photograph]. H.Murton (2013). Space Five [Private Photograph]. H.Murton (2013). Space Four [Private Photograph]. H.Murton (2013). Space Ritual (2010) [Online image]. Available from <http://contextualgardens.blogspot. co.uk/2010/07/space-ritual-shamanic-performance.html> [Accessed 07 September 2013]. Space Six [Private Photograph]. H.Murton (2013). Space Three [Private Photograph]. H.Murton (2013). Space Two [Private Photograph]. H.Murton (2013). Steelyard Passage (2013) [Online image]. Available from <http://www.the-facility.co.uk/case-study/ steelyard> [Accessed 26 September 2013]. Step details [Private Photograph]. H.Murton (2013). Stone Sign [Private Photograph]. H.Murton (2013). The Temple (2010) [Online image]. Available from <http://www.britainsbestbreaks.tv/the-forbiddencorner_14945.htm> [Accessed 06 September 2013]. Tiered construction of the Plaza (n.d.) [Online image]. Available from <http://ww2.mytravelphotos. net/?folio=7POYGN0G2> [Accessed 30 August 2013]. Surrealism in Landscape Architecture 154
Tree of Half Life (2000) [Online image]. Available from <http://agonistica.com/artist-andphotographer-storm-thorgerson-dead-at-69/> [Accessed 12 August 2013]. Untitled by Prefete Duffaunt (2001) [Private Photograph]. H.Murton (2013). View of the gatehouses from the Plaza [Private Photograph]. H.Murton (2013). Villa dâ€™Este (2008) [Online image]. Available from <http://www.villadeste.com/en/13/home.aspx> [Accessed 21 August 2013]. Villa Lante (2008) [Online image]. Available from <http://folliesofeurope.com/album/slidenav. php?folder=Italy/&file=slides/VILLA%20LANTE%20OVERVIEW.jpg> [Accessed 21 August 2013]. Water Spray (2013) [Online image]. Available from <http://www.theforbiddencorner.co.uk/spottedphoto-corner-v1/> [Accessed 07 September 2013]. Woman (1934) [Online image]. Available from <http://silverandexact.com/2010/08/20/woman-joanmiro-1934/> [Accessed 12 August 2013].
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My Masters submission for which I received a Distinction Award. A study into the weird and wonderful.