The Use and Abuse of the Garden as a Cultural Artefact

2017-04-30T23:53:52Z (GMT) by Sally Mannall
The Use and Abuse of the Garden as a Cultural Artefact considers the garden as a highly complex cultural artefact and explores correspondences between this idea and practice-based creative projects that employ intervention in garden contexts. I pose the question: if gardens are polysemic, combining cultural ideas about nature with site, natural force, human power and control, how can artistic interventions expose, disrupt and extend understandings of this complexity? I propose that in utilising the unique combination of site, interventions, actions, play and mimesis in distinct vernacular gardens in Austria and Australia this complexity is revealed.

This exegesis frames a conceptual understanding of the garden as a microcosm of a cultural moment through a series of case studies of the historical and contemporary contexts of the gardens in Austria and Australia that I have worked in. These case studies have been deliberately chosen for the opportunity they offer to engage the histories (ownership, landscape design, labour) of the food garden. These specific sites enable me to develop the landscape culture in the periods of these gardens’ emergence and the cultural attitudes towards the landscape. Correspondences to these ideas in the creative works synthesise the theoretical and creative outcomes of this research. The materials and formal vocabularies I have employed include site-responsive works, artistic interventions, kinetic sculptures, uniforms, photography, moving image, time, duration and anamorphic illusion.