geography and geometry
July 30, 2013
This oleander caused problems. At the moment, it’s a show stopper along Exhibition Road but 10 years ago as we completed this project it was deemed dangerous, by one individual, due to its poisonous properties. Many plants are poisonous if eaten by humans. Many of its companions which are poisonous, if digested, remain in place. So the plant was lifted from the large rear terrace and re planted by the main public entrance of The Royal Geographical Society (IBG) where visitors enter through the glass pavilion designed by Studiodownie. I could never fathom the reasoning for this decision.
The pavilion makes a great shop window for exhibitions and the garden area beyond. The Society needed extra space for library, research rooms and lecture theatres, and so ground was excavated to house these facilities below a wide terrace with an adjoining sunken garden for outdoor events. Front of pavilion above and rear view below.
The current exhibition – Travel Photographer of the Year – fills the pavilion, the terrace and the sunken area. We designed large containers to edge the terrace as a safety precaution and also to hold the evergreen summer flowering Trachelospermum jasminoides which weave along the taut stainless steel wires to provide shade and give some privacy to the research rooms below. I was cheered to see how well this system was still working and that it remained aesthetically pleasing. The powerful fragrance filled the outside space.
The wide rear terrace floods off the ground floor eating rooms and hallways. This planting looked rather over grown now and in need of some maintenance and was the original position for the oleander. Easy to see that clumps of oleander would provide colour amongst all the green. The plants on this south facing aspect were chosen as indigenous to the southern hemisphere while the north facing side was planted with species from other side of the equator – birch, robinia, bamboos, ferns etc etc.
Across Kensington Gore, the catalpa’s are flowering around the Serpentine Gallery and completing the composition with the temporary structure and the permanent building.
This year, Sou Fujimoto has conceived a see through rubic – horizontal escalation – of latticed powder coated steel. I love it and so do many others. It looks light weight and summery and appears to be practical. Of course, a good summer helps!
A friend, whose opinion I value, told me not to miss Genesis – Sebastião Salgado – at the Natural History Museum. He was right – it’s quite miraculous and I’ll go back again. This image of reindeer travelling over ice looking like a geometric pattern is mesmeric.
Many of the images from Patagonia and Chile resonated clearly with me but all the regions of the world were documented in a highly particular way.
Final stop of the day to see yet another exhibition – Green Fuse, the work of Dan Pearson at the Garden Museum in Lambeth. Here within this old churchyard, the sense of history preveils . . .
. . . . . but also geography, botany and horticulture. By the church is the tomb of the John Tradescants, father and son, plant hunters and collectors, who introduced many species collected from other geographic regions to this part of the world. Some are planted here.
I climbed a ladder to . . .
Was it the moon or stars?
Was it to find a view,
A total world view of
Some magnitude? I had
Much daring once in love,
But daring balanced by
Hope and trust, I read
Of how wise men will try
Slowly to reach a state
Where there’s no argumnet
Man cannot know his fate
But he can face the rough
Returns, the storms of hate,
If only he will love
But love with purpose and
Direction. I can see
A ladder in my mind
A monument, I am free,
A moment understand. Elizabeth Jennings I Climbed a Ladder