Artists and their gardens.

I promised in my April blog to tell you about one more treat I had, an exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Painting the Modern Garden Monet to Matisse is the latest block buster exhibition and a feast to the eye, particularly for those of us who love gardens. It ended on 20th April and I am unsure if it will be shown elsewhere. I studied art history and achieved a Masters Degree in History of Art:Venice and Europe from Warwick University in 2000, when I was 52. A life changing event as my core term was 10 weeks in Venice studying Renaissance art, I left my husband and family to study for a year at university as a postgraduate student – took a lot of nerve and support! My plan was to start on a whole new career but health issues prevented me, despite the setback I am left with a love of art which will not leave me.

The delight of this exhibition was that works by many artists I’ve not heard of were displayed. The rooms featured paintings of Impressionist Gardens, International Gardens, Gardens of Silence, Avant-Gardens, Gardens of Reverie but the main focus was on Monet’s early years at Giverny and his later years at Giverny culminating in a room featuring his Waterlilies. As well as paintings one room had a scaled down model of Monet’s heated greenhouse with seedlings and plants ready to plant. Monet moved to Giverny in 1883 and lived there until his death in 1926. His work covers that period including the years when failing eyesight, a cataract, affected much of the colour palette of his work. I cannot describe much of the work as I am limited in space but suffice to say I was transported. I wish I had bought the catalogue but my house has hundreds of art books and catalogues and little space so I resisted!

The paintings included work by Scandinavian artists, French, American, German, Spanish – some personal others huge displays. Scattered through some of the rooms were notebooks detailing botanic sketches of various plants and huge photographs of some of the artists working in their gardens. Some with their team of gardeners!. The viewer has a glimpse of the world of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. Architecture varies which reflects colours and textures of various countries. The warmth of Spain, the cool colours of Northern Countries, each work is a blend of colour and vibrancy. Camille Pissaro’s vegetable garden contrasts with Renoir’s wild gardens, others bring the outside inside through glass windows and reflections but everything stimulates the senses.

I hope I have given a flavour of my wonderful day, a difficult task for me to undertake as I cannot cover the long list of work. I have put a link to the website which has a little about the exhibition as it’s finished but lots of other interesting information so do check it out. The exhibition catalogue will be available on-line if anyone would like to buy it. I haven’t included any images myself as I’m uncertain of rules regarding copyright. The main thing is that gardens offer places for quite contemplation, sharing with other people, eating and drinking, playing – particularly with children – but plants in window boxes can offer a different perspective of gardening. In the UK many waste spaces are being reclaimed by local communities, orchards are being planted in the middle of built up spaces, roundabouts are cultivated and many of these initiatives offer free fruit and vegetables. The schemes don’t seem to get vandalised either, bring communities together and get neighbours talking. All show the power of the garden.


9 responses to “Artists and their gardens.

  1. I had the opportunity to visit some art museums in Europe and there is no way a photo can capture the essence of the paintings. You are a very accomplished lady. Going back to get an education in what you love is impressive. I wish your health would have allowed you to continue the journey but cementing your love of art gained you riches.

    Loved the post.

  2. There were a few examples on the website you linked to. It’s amazing to see how differently eyes depict things and hands/talent gets them down on canvas. What a cool exhibit to get to see. And going back to get your masters is an excellent accomplishment, Jane. Well done! Thanks for sharing this with us.

  3. Valerie J. Patterson

    Wow! I’m impressed that you went back to school for something you are so passionate about, Jane! What I like about art is that 4 people can see the same piece and come away with four varied experiences. I’m so glad you had the opportunity to view this exhibit. I did use the link you provided. There is so much to read and see there!!

  4. Thank you I’m pleased you enjoyed blog and the website. I also saw Giorgione exhibition which took me back to Venice days as many artists I had studied were shown. I agree with you different people respond differently, art is in the “eye of the beholder”.

  5. I’m pleased all of you enjoyed the post and have similar thoughts to me. I am lucky to have such experiences. A bonus too was that despite being up to 30 years older than most of my fellow students they became friends as well as colleagues. I am still in touch with some and love getting news from them as well as photos of their families. They looked after me but made me feel part of the group, art changed my life in many ways.

  6. Loved reading about your visit, Janey. I’m so pleased you continue to feed your love of art history with gallery and exhibition visits. I am very proud of you for following your dreams, and know how challenging it was for you to take the huge step of leaving everything familiar to move away for your Master’s Degree. You are amazing and an inspiration!

  7. So are you my darling. I am blessed to have you in my life. Thank you. When is our next treat? X

  8. Wow. Love it- thanks for the link, too. This seems like one I’d have loved to visit. Jillian

  9. Fabulous post, and being an artist as well as a keen gardener, I could well understand your enthusiasm and love of art. Taking that step to achieve a Masters Degree was bold and brave and full credit to you. I intend to visit Monet’s garden one day as I missed out when studying art at school and forget the last time I visited an art museum. I simply must make more effort. Thank you for the inspiration.

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