landscapes without horizons

March 17, 2013

glimpse

Some very enjoyable hours are spent researching enclosed gardens nowadays. For one researcher it is directly connected to an imminent installation, so the aesthetic;  and for the other, it is connected more and more to the 360 degree view of the plot being worked by the gardener, so the practical. A glimpse into one of the cloistered green areas at Val de Bénédiction Chartreuse in Villeneuve les Avignon offers up the expected box framed parterre – a warm berceau – a  14 C  space lined by cloisters but now the 21 C view that visitors expect. This is the church cloister bounded by chapter room, sacristan’s cell, shaving room and the church housing the mausoleum of Pope Innocent VI. It may have been an area for cultivating herbs . . . . a  ‘focal point’ – vase has been placed as part of the experience that is de rigueur now.

hortus

The feature look a a little out of place in the new setting but it’s a good reproduction of 17 C decorative finial from the entrance gate and posts. Pomegranates, melons and acanthus adorn the vase. This may be a copy of  the original by Franςois Des Royers, a local architect, sculptor and stone mason, who was invited to add similar touches. The monasatery grew richer, more influential and beautiful over the centuries until the Revolution.

niche

Long corridors offer up a peaceful and serene atmosphere. Any decoration is subdued but appropriate. Following a carving up into lots of the library and works of art including frescoes and the bad damage to the building during the Revolution,  the Inspector of Historical Monuments, Prosper Mérimée started the process of repair.

arch doorway

ceiling

support

The priest’s cells form a linear terrace on the right side of this cloister – Cemetery Cloister. The cells had a mezzanine sleeping area looking out onto a private walled garden, and across the Chemin des Chartreux to the Fort St – André,  high on the hill overlooking the new town, the Rhône and the old Avignon.

corridor with rooms

monks houses

The individual garden – hortulus –  has a raised level to catch as much sun as possible. A majority of the herbal plants had been introduced by the Romans but also brought back from The Holy Land by Crusaders so sun and warmth were a prerequisite in their growth and cultivation.

herbs

plan of certosa

The plan of another Certosa, Pavia, shows the uninterrupted rectilinear regulation of line and form. Inward looking and contemplative – nothing from the outside or larger world can interrupt. My thoughts on tending earth and growing plants are on the same level.

k garden

This was the area of the hortus catalogi, also part of the Cemetery Cloister, where plants were grown for food and healing. Grown in an ordered pattern, originally as a user friendly method of organisation,  with roots from ancient Muslim gardens.

hortus catalogi

long corridor

All circulation was through covered cloister walkways – repetition – harmoniously connecting functional spaces – inward views – geometric planes of light and shade – unified  – humility and piety – prayers offered up to save the human race.well

One necessary functional space was based round the water reservoir. The basin here built by Des Royers and covered later with an octagonal rotunda by Franque seems monumental and indicative of the power of the church . . . . so back firmly down to earth with Carol Ann Duffy:

Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer
utters itself. So, a woman will lift
her head from the sieve of her hands and stare
at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift.

Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth
enters our hearts, that small familiar pain;
then a man will stand stock-still, hearing his youth
in the distant Latin chanting of a train.

Pray for us now. Grade 1 piano scales
console the lodger looking out across
a Midlands town. Then dusk, and someone calls
a child’s name as though they named their loss.

Darkness outside. Inside, the radio’s prayer –
Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre. Carol Ann Duffy  Prayer

Some other posts on the research:

https://juliafoggterrain.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/chronicling-the-day/

https://juliafoggterrain.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/quietude/

https://juliafoggterrain.wordpress.com/2012/09/18/land-of-the-saint-the-devil-and-the-monks/

https://juliafoggterrain.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/a-room-without-a-ceiling/

(refs: drawings from The Enclosed Garden Aben + de Wit; Captured Landscape K Baker)

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