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.

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