Interpretations of the garden in the work of selected artists
This dissertation sets out to investigate the interpretation of the garden in the work of Marianne North (1840-1926), Claude Monet (1840-1926) and Ian Hamilton Finlay (1925-2006) and my art practice. The garden has historically been a site for man’s interaction with nature and has been the subject of interpretation by Fine Art and Botanic artists throughout history. Marianne North’s (1830-1890) interpretation of the garden is positioned somewhere between Victorian flower painter and Botanic artist. An intrepid traveller, she could be considered as a topographical artist in that she documented the gardens and the flora and fauna of the countries she visited. The focus is on her visit to South Africa in 1883. Claude Monet (1840-1926), in his late Impressionist interpretation of the garden, focused on the seasonal play of light on his Japanese inspired garden at Giverny. Artist and poet Ian Hamilton Finlay (1925-2006) in his interpretation of his garden Little Sparta, acknowledges the transience of the garden and its constant metamorphosis. His three dimensional poetry in the form of inscribed rocks and sculptures reflects his interpretation of the garden as a location of contestation. In an exhibition titled Hortus Conclusis I explore the fragility of the garden through the use of porcelain as a metaphor for the transience of life.