Thomas Struth, Paradise Series

Monet's panoramic waterscapes at Musee l'Orangerie, Paris

Thomas Struth's Paradise Series and Werner Herzog's film Fitzcaraldo both address the relationship between culture and wilderness, the unconscious and the mind. The implication of Struth's Paradise Series is that the unmade unruly jungle is Eden, and is therefore unmatched as a place of beauty. Other Paradise images are set within a cultural or social context, such as cathedral architecture or museum space which raise questions about the status, social and historical context of wild jungle and the relationship between architecture and nature, inside and out, made and unmade, sacred and profane. 

Kandalama Hotel, Geoffrey Bawa, Sri Lanka

Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book and Werner Herzog's film Fitzcaraldo examine the beguiling force that draws us into the untouched wild landscape. The suggestion in all these works is that the untamed landscape gives voice to the unmade primal. The word 'jungle' was adopted from the Hindi (Sanskrit) word "jungla", meaning "wild untamed place".  In Hindi, the word to describe a "wild, uncultivated person of the jungle is "jungli". The word "Paradise" comes from the Persian, to mean 'walled enclosure'. 

Sigmund & Anna Freud

Monet

Casper David Freidrich and the great wide vista

In Adous Huxley's 1929 essay, Wordsworth in the Tropics, he writes that a trip into the jungle would 'rudely disturb' and 'undeceive' Wordsworth's worship of man-made nature.  "Wandering in the hothouse darkness of the jungle, he [Wordsworth] would not have felt so serenely certain of those 'Presences of Nature', those 'Souls of Lonely Places', which he was in the habit of worshipping. The sparse inhabitants of equatorial forest are all believers in devils. When one has visited, in even the most superficial manner, the places where they live, it is difficult not to share their faith.  The jungle is marvellous, fantastic, beautiful; but it is also terrifying, it is also profoundly sinister. There is something... which is foreign, appalling, fundamentally and utterly inimical to intruding man. The life of those vast masses of swarming vegetation is alien to the human spirit and hostile to it..."

Thomas Struth, Paradise Series

Moongate at Suzhou

Moongate, Souzhou

JMW Turner studies of a tree stump

James Turrell, framed sky, Aqua De Luz, Tixcacaltuyub, Yucatan

Werner Herzog's film Fitzcaraldo in which culture (opera) tames the wild jungle 

Sophie Walker / Forest Garden, Project for Japan

Herzog, Fitzcaraldo

Thomas Struth Milan Cathedral, New Pictures From Paradise

Thomas Struth, Paradise Series

A tenuous relationship between architecture and jungle, Kandalama Hotel, Geoffrey Bawa, Sri Lanka

Patrick le Blanc Vertical Wall, Herzog de Meuron, Madrid

Near Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Mouth of Hell Pavilion at Bomarzo, The Park of Monsters

Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book

Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden

Lucien Freud's dog peeing on a pot plant in his London studio

Claude Monet in his garden at Giverny

Ornamental Wardian Case, 19th Century

In 1830s, Dr Nathanial Ward invented the Wardian Case, a container designed to protect foreign plant finds on their journeys back to Britain.  Ward had noticed that leaf-mould remained moist and realised realised that the water it contained would evaporate during the day and condense at night back into the mould.  Robert Fortune first used the Wardian Case in 1843 on behalf of the Horticultural Society when he sent back a total of 26 cases packed with hundreds of plants from China which have since made their way into our parks and gardens -one of these was the much loved Anemone japonica.  Sir William Hooker, Director of Kew, reported that with the aid of the Wardian Case, he had imported six times as many plants to Kew.  The birth of Ward's invention steered the way to the import of many hardy foreign species, changing the course of garden design in Britain and abroad.  Like a diorama, the Wardian Case contains some other world, and celebrates its content.

Wardian Case

Fingal's Cave, Scotland

Entering a cave is an experience full of wonder: a surprising space slowly opens up as your eyes gradually become accustomed to the dark.  It's like looking into a kaleidoscope to discover a rearranged expanded world.  I am interested in that dreamy reality between what is discovered and what is imagined, I want Cave Pavilion to be a garden that demands time, a garden that slowly reveals itself in time, and is never fully known.  

Krishna in the garden

Krishna in the garden

D.W. Winnicott

Wailing Wall, Jerusalem

"We are surrounded with things which we have not made and which have a life and structure different from our own; trees, flowers, grasses, rivers, hills.  For centuries they have inspired us with curiosity and awe.  They have been objects of delight.  We have recreated them in our imaginations to reflect our moods.  And we have come to think of them as contributing to an idea which we have called nature." - Kenneth Clarke / Landscape into Art 

At Sotheby's admiring Thomas Struth, Paradise

Donald Judd in the landscape at Marfa

Lucien Freud's garden

In the British tradition, Lucien Freud, Elm

Documenting the finds

Walled Garden, The Lost Garden of Penicuik

Albrecht Durer, Piece of Turf

Diorama, New York Museum of Natural History

Diorama illustrating mangrove habitat at the Indian Museum, Calcutta

The Diorama in progress

At the zoo

The zoo

The Indoor Ornamental Wardian Case

Victorian diorama

John Constable - "I was at the private view of the “Diorama”; it is in part a transparency; the spectator is in a dark chamber, and it has great illusion. It is without the pale of art, because its object is deception. The art pleases by reminding, not deceiving."  

Cave

Modern diorama

Henri Rousseau

John Constable, Trunk and Lower Branches of a Tree

My first adventure into the Amazon, Bolivia

Heironymus Bosch - The Trees Have Ears and the Fields Have Eyes