Friday, March 22, 2013

Renaissance Gardens

The Getty blog has a post about Renaissance gardens, and some illustrations of gardens from manuscripts in the Getty's collection.

A “Renaissance garden” is not a singular concept, and it can’t be delineated neatly along geographic or chronological lines. But we can make some broad generalizations about gardens, botany, and the natural world during the Renaissance in Europe. Villa gardens in central Italy, for example, were often designed around an ideal, proportional system of geometry, according to which the garden linked the house and the surrounding countryside along an axis. This planting system was later applied to gardens beyond Italy, and although many of these gardens have changed since the time of their cultivation, an illumination from a 17th-century German manuscript (below) presents a house and garden planted with a grid-axis that belonged to one Magdalene Pairin in 1502, over a century earlier. This garden appears much the same today as it did when this manuscript was created. See full post here.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Gardens and Politics | Free Talk at MFU

I am giving a talk for the Melbourne Free University next week on Gardens and Politics in history. See the blurb below. It is free to attend and a very relaxed atmosphere and I encourage people to come along and enjoy a glass of wine and join in the discussion.

It is next Tuesday 26th February at 6:30pm (the MFU website here). Details about the venue and other talks in the series are also here.
Katrina Grant | Gardens and Politics in the Early Modern Era 
The way that nature has been shaped into landscapes and gardens has often been a political act that aimed to promote a personal or national identity. Gardens are symbols of a society’s attitude to nature and to the social order (for instance, who is allowed in and who is not). Political messages are often woven through the landscapes of gardens when they are created and changing attitudes can see landscapes reworked to reflect new power structures and new political realities. Too often as modern visitors we are not given any sense of this, with gardens presented simply as pleasurable and/or grandiose. In this talk I will present the political side of a number of sixteenth- to eighteenth-century European gardens from France, Italy and the UK.

Some images of a few of the gardens that I will be talking about are below.

Temple of British Worthies

The Temple of Ancient Virtue

Fireworks at Versailles

View of Versailles by Pierre Patel c. 1668

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Review of 'The Four Horsemen'

I wrote this review of the NGV's current print exhibition The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Death for the Melbourne Art Network. You can read it in its entirety here:

The ‘Four Horsemen’ exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria draws together a rich, varied and evocative selection of images of death: the horseman crushing rich and poor alike beneath the hooves of his skeletal horse; the shadowy figure stalking the young and the beautiful; the horrors of war; the terrors of the final Apocalypse. The images in this exhibition are a window into a period when belief in the imminence of the Apocalypse was coupled with the more mundane fear of death from disease, accident or war. There is much that still resonates strongly today. We may not fear a religious apocalypse—though the, mostly, tongue-in-cheek panic about the Mayan prediction of the end of the world in 2012 suggests that traditional ideas of the apocalypse still capture our imaginations—but we have our own fears: the sense of the impending doom of climate-change, the fear of our own death or that of our loved ones. This exhibition gives us a chance to reflect on how the ever-present fear of death and disaster was dealt with in Early Modern Europe; it reminds us too that, although much has changed, the fear of brutality and death remains a common preoccupation... CONT.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

AcWriMo goals

I'm participating in AcWriMo (Academic Writing Month - you can read more about it here) as I feel the need to set myself some more challenging goals and also be a bit more accountable. Without the structure of a PhD or external funding for a project or a proper ongoing academic position of any kind it can be hard to motivate myself to do more than keep submitting postdoc applications and then letting all the little bits of casual and volunteer work I do take over the rest of my time. However, as I keep writing my CV for jobs I am conscious that I haven't had a publication since mid last year and I haven't even submitted any for publication, nor have I been particularly rigorous about putting in abstracts for conferences that might result in a publication.

November is going to be a slightly mad month as I am in Sydney for a conference next weekend, the journal I am an editor for is due to launch in mid-November, and I have another postdoc due at the end of the month. But there are plenty of days in November to fit writing in, and part of the point of AcWriMo is to just get the damn writing done and stop coming up with excuses.

My main goal is not to write a set amount of words (but I might keep a tally as I like tallies) but to write every single day for at least 2 hours, or four pomodori (25 minute bouts w. 5 minute breaks). I want to establish a routine of using at least 2 hours a day for work that is just mine.

The projects I will work on and plan to make decent progress on or finish are

1. Paper for Sydney (app. 1000 words)
2. Abstract for AAH conference (250 words - but I will need to map out the idea in more detail to wrie a good abstract)
3. Postdoc due at the end of the month (1000 words)
4. Review of the NGV Apocalypse show for the Melbourne Art Network (1000 words)
5. Short article about the Edward Haytley paintings in the NGV - this is something I have started and done all the research for but which has stalled (1000 words)
6. Write article about Versailles based on my thesis chapter (app. 6000 words)
7. Write article about William Kent based on unused research from PhD (4000 words)
8. Try and write in this blog more - it's not exactly academic but I like the idea of getting back into the habit of writing short pieces on what I am researching, reading or looking at (though putting up blog posts does tend to be an exercise in waiting for photos to upload rather than writing...).

That only adds up to around 14000 words (I know some people are planning on 50 000!) but some of it is not just simple writing but will require a bit of reading, note taking and library visiting and I guess if I surpass my expectations I can add more goals!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Snapshot East Melbourne

I hadn't noticed this place till recently, unusual style for East Melbourne, not many warehouse type conversions.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Restored Poussin at the NGV

The NGV unveiled Nicolas Poussin's Crossing of the Red Sea on Wednesday after 12 months of cleaning. It looks pretty spectacular. I remember well how the painting looked before leaning as it was one that I studied as an undergrad and then, in turn, have studied with undergrads when I have taught Baroque Art. But even if you don't closely recall how it looked before, how it looks now makes it well worth a visit.
Nicolas Poussin The Crossing of the Red Sea 1632-34 oil on canvas, 155.6 x 215.3 cm National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Felton Bequest, 1948

I wrote a longer piece on the painting's restoration, which is published on the Melbourne Art Network and you can read it here

I also ended up in the ABC news story on it when I was trying to get a closer look and chat to the conservator Carl Villis:

Friday, April 20, 2012

Snapshot | Richmond Garden

A Garden of small hanging succulents and one huge cactus. I love how large and out of proportion it is. It is like some succulent guardian of the weatherboard house.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Snapshots, Richmond

I like the light on days like today when one minute it is is raining horizontally and the next the sun comes out, photos from my late afternoon wander though West Richmond.

Modern houses in Richmond, quite a lot of this cheek-by-jowl with nineteenth-century terraces and weatherboards, some really good and some a bit average, this isn't my favourite but it looked good in the sun.

Red brick corner shop.

Back of the 'All Nations Hotel' on Lennox St.

Terrace Houses on York St.

Art Deco 'Davis Relova Laundry' , building designed by Walter Mason, apparently it was converted to apartments several years ago, more here. Facade is looking a bit shabby

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Friday, September 16, 2011

Snapshot Castlemaine

Waiting on Castlemaine PLatform 2 for the afternoon train to Melbourne, catching some sunshine after a cold few days in Daylesford.

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