The Artful Garden, a beautiful and thoughtful book by James Van Sweden, explores how and where we find inspiration for creating art. Van Sweden views garden design as an art form, and gives examples of how painting, sculpture, music and dance can provide inspiration for garden design.
Van Sweden is particularly known for his painterly approach to plant design. Using large swaths of plants as he would broad brush strokes on canvas; and with an eye toward the use of color, light and shadow, he creates gardens that are inspired by and conversely inspire, landscape paintings.
|Evening Island at the Chicago Botanic Garden, by Van Sweden, shows off his painterly approach to plant design|
Throughout the book, Van Sweden draws analogies between garden design and other art forms. One of the most interesting concepts (I think) is the relationship between music and garden design. The idea is that music evokes mood; it can make you feel exuberant, contemplative, energized, relaxed, anxious, spiritual, nostalgic or a number of other emotions. Similarly, a well designed garden can evoke all of those same moods.
In The Artful Garden, Van Sweden interviews cellist Yo Yo Ma, and designer Julie Moir Messervey who collaborated to create the Toronto Music Garden, inspired by Bach’s Suite #1 for unaccompanied cellists. http://www.toronto.ca/parks/featured-parks/music-garden/ The garden has six “rooms”, each interpreting one of the six movements of Bach’s piece. He shares their amazing discussion of how they interpreted the feeling of the music into the design of this garden. I’m going to plan a trip to Toronto next summer just to see this amazing space!
|Lawrence Halprin’s stream at Letterman Drive. Halprin was known to be influenced by his wife Ann, a dancer, and this stream, as it winds and straightens, speeds up and slows down, was inspired by her love of dance.|