14 May 2012

Garden of Reason at Ham House

I go to Ham House several times a year because it is close, has an interesting garden and I can get in for free with my Art Card. And so I found myself there on a wet weekend looking for a quick respite from the stifling indoors.

I expected nothing more that the familiar garden but found myself at an art exhibition.

Garden of Reason is a display of modern art spread all around the gardens. The most striking piece is a pyramid of bright red metal staircases on the large lawn at the rear of the house, which looks on as if unsure of what is going on.

In the Wilderness, my favourite part of the garden, there is a central oval where all the paths meet and decisions are made on where to explore next.

Distracting you from this decision is a series of plinths with completely different art works on each one.

I picked this one because it is the most outrageous but I could also have picked what looks like a buckled road sign.

Exploiting the length of one of the straight paths is an optical feature flanked by hedges. Unfortunately when I was there any clever effect was destroyed by a combination of the rain that had clouded the lenses and (I presume) small children who had knocked some of the lenses out of line.

Nothing to do with the exhibition, but it was good to see another drinks area on the rear terrace giving the opportunity to sit and enjoy the garden over a coffee and, let's be honest here, a slice of cake.

Moving to the north side and the former Cherry Garden, the ornamental lavender (recently replanted) and conical hedges have been joined by a set of blocks.

The sign clearly says that they are not to be climbed on but I had to wait some time to take this picture while a small boy had to be coaxed down by his not overly concerned parents.

The small boy thought that their attitude was "ridiculous" and that touch of unknowing child-speak made the wait worth while.

Completing the tour of the house brings us to the front where we discover two large balloons in the alcoves either side of the front door. I've always found the front of the house to be a little too fussy (the back is much better) but somehow the addition of the balloons make it look simpler.

Despite their patterning, I could not get the idea of Rover from The Prisoner out of my mind and kept expecting one of the balloons to head towards me while making an unnatural wailing sound.

Elsewhere in the garden there was an interesting sound installation on the subject of tulip bulbs - rather hard to photograph that one.

Garden of Reason is a series of events as well as installations so I am sure to be going back.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Matthew

    In case you missed it..here's a film by artist Carolina Melis that we worked on as part of the Garden of Reason project - http://www.animateprojects.org/films/by_date/2012/regarding_gardens

    There's an essay about the garden too.

    Best wishes



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