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The Golden Afternoon Of Gardens And Artists

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A 5-part online series, on Tuesdays @ 10, starting March 2nd, which will linger over the golden afternoon of gardening and art.

About this Event

The decades before the First World War are often referred to as the Golden Afternoon of gardening. They were also the Golden Afternoon of garden painting. Although they dropped out of favour for most of the 20th century there has been a revival of interest in the last 30 years or so and we’re sure you’ll see why. We shall echo Roy Strong who saw himself looking at their work and “sauntering past immemorial yew hedges to linger over a herbaceous border before ascending ancient stone steps leading through a weathered iron gate to who knows where.”

But not all gardens are that grand. This was the age of the cottage garden too, and of early garden and plant photography, while all the time, in the distance, is the cenotaph.

Presented by David Marsh and Caroline Holmes.

This ticket costs £20 for the entire course of 5. sessions or you may purchase a ticket for individual sessions, costing £5 via the links below.

Attendees will be sent a Zoom link 2 days prior to the start of the talk. A link to the recorded session (available for 1 week) will be sent shortly afterwards.

The Old English Garden: Part of a series of 5 online lectures, £5 each or all 5 for £20.

The Cottage Garden: Part of a series of 5 online lectures, £5 each or all 5 for £20.

Gertrude Jekyll - artist and gardener: Part of a series of 5 online lectures, £5 each or all 5 for £20.

The Essenhigh Corkes: Part of a series of 5 online lectures, £5 each or all 5 for £20.

Towards the Cenotaph: Part of a series of 5 online lectures, £5 each or all 5 for £20.


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Week 1 March 2nd: The Old English Garden - David

Unless you have pored over old arthouse auction catalogues or spent time looking at watercolours on provincial gallery walls you might not have heard of George Elgood or Arthur Rowe, yet they were probably the leading garden artists of this period. They revered all old formal gardens for their “well-ordered classical restraint” and managed to capture their transitory spirit both in watercolour and book illustrations.


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Week 2 March 9th: The Cottage Garden - David

There are few images of the gardens of ordinary people before the mid- 19thc and when they do first appear, they show the poverty of rural life. Yet, within a few decades the cottage garden has become something to aspire to. Paintings show neat gardens full of billowing masses of bright flowers in a heavily romanticised take on reality. This lecture will look at the painters who recorded this transformation


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Week 3 March 16th: Gertrude Jekyll - artist and gardener - Caroline

Before she became a garden designer, Gertrude Jekyll studied painting and undertook expeditions in Europe and North Africa. This training was influential when weakening eyesight caused her to switch from using paint to using plants for her picture making. She is celebrated for her painterly approach to drifting borders and gardens. Amongst her friends was the doyenne of cottage scenes, Helen Allingham, who also captured the colourful glories of Jekyll’s long border at Munstead Wood.


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Week 4 March 23rd: The Essenhigh Corkes -

Art has a commercial side and it’s easy to overlook those humbler forms that don’t involve gallery walls. Amongst those who led the way were Charles and Henry Essenhigh Corke. Don’t be put off by the strange name. They were a talented father and son team who helped put high quality garden art onto picture postcards, and into guidebooks. Their work was so good it is still used a reference point in garden conservation today. Henry was also a pioneer of garden and plant photography, producing images of the highest quality that any modern garden photographer would be proud to have taken.


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Week 5 March 30th: Towards the Cenotaph - Caroline

Edwardian garden glories gave way to war grave memorials, but not before their high points were encapsulated in Sangorski’s vignettes of Sandringham which were given to Queen Alexandra in an illuminated hand-written copy of Bacon’s Essay Of Gardens. In 1918 garden-makers like Lutyens and Jekyll turned their attention from herbaceous border to memorial gardens, while the Imperial War Graves Commission created the field that is forever England - a collective rather than an individual garden - bringing the era to a sober conclusion.

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