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The Garden of Pané
Around every corner
a surprise awaits
bringing with it a smile
and a new vista
to delight the senses
Palazzo Arese and Giardino Borromeo
When I first saw the garden from the first floor balcony of the Palazzo I was impressed (as was intended by the architect/landscape designer) by the vista to the fountain in the far distance. I did not realise then that beyond the fountain there was a waterfall; and up the stairs to the side of the waterfall there is another long water garden with gryphons on either side with a view back through the fountain to the palace. This view from above the waterfall has the visual effect of bringing the palace closer than it seems from the ground below the waterfall. At the end of the water garden is a stone table with stone seats around it and situated here were four elderly men playing cribbage. Alongside them a stray chicken is pecking the ground. It seemed that wherever I went, there it was. The photographs show not only the beauty and delight of the gardens and statuary, but also the different people who enjoy the gardens.
All that is solid melts into air
The palaces and gardens in these photographs were in a state of decay and have recently been renovated with public funding. The gardens are situated close to urban areas – not far from major cities. These gardens were originally built by and for the aristocracy as a retreat or escape from the cities.
Urban environments grew up around the gardens and they have become an escape for local people of all ages who take pleasure in these outdoor spaces in a variety of ways. The palaces and gardens are now enjoyed by, perhaps, the descendants of the architects, designers and artisans who built the original palaces and gardens and who are the beneficiaries now of many of these estates.
The gardens are well used and appreciated by both tourists and local communities. As well as elderly men playing cribbage were young lovers; children playing; academics taking a breath of air – who work at a university philosophy department now housed in the Palazzo; mothers with infants; disabled people in wheelchairs; people riding gently by on bicycles and others who were meeting friends or taking refuge from the heat under the beautiful avenues of trees.
In photographing the gardens of the past I want to explore the intentions/tensions between the great builders and dreamers of previous eras and the labourers, the draughtsmen and women, the artists and sculptors of the statuary and the meaning these spaces have for people today.
The photographic work comprises prints from A2 to A4. I encourage public engagement with the work, such as workshops about the importance of public spaces/parks and people’s relationship to them.