Context 160 - July 2019

34 C O N T E X T 1 6 0 : J U L Y 2 0 1 9 Landscapes Structures in the landscape: buildings, monuments, walls and metalwork To build, to plant, whatever you intend, To rear the Column, or the Arch to bend, To swell the Terras, or to sink the Grot; In all, let Nature never be forgot. But treat the Goddess like a modest fair, Nor over-dress, nor leave her wholly bare; Let not each beauty ev’ry where be spy’d, Where half the skill is decently to hide. He gains all points who pleasingly confounds Surprises, varies, and conceals the Bounds. Alexander Pope (1731), from ‘Of Taste: An Epistle to the Earl of Burlington’ Alexander Pope is often quoted in connection with early-18th- century designed landscapes and the rapidly changing taste for a more ‘natural’ form of landscaping. In ‘Of Taste: An Epistle to the Earl of Burlington’ he expressed the importance of paying attention to every detail within the designed landscape; the seen and the unseen, the major feature and the minor. In this regard, Pope was not expressing an original view or one that would be abandoned by subsequent generations of landscape makers. To put it simply, detail matters in a designed landscape as much as it does in a building, even when considering the apparently mundane and functional elements. This, my second article in the series looking at historic designed landscapes, will consider some of the ‘minor’ structures to be found; the structures that can be both the framework of the landscape and the eye-catchers. It will also touch on the some of the issues relating to the construction and conservation of these structures. Walls are particularly prevalent in historic designed landscapes; they often form the fundamental structure of the place and define its boundaries. They have huge variety of shape, materials, function, significance, degree of decoration and construction. From the ‘invisible’ (ha-has and occasionally boundary walls) to the intentionally visible (some boundary walls, walled gardens, terrace walls and courtyards) understanding the intention behind the form of enclosure and resultant spaces, why the boundary exists at all, and the materials and methods of construction, are essential to their maintenance and conservation. Unfortunately walls in a designed landscape are often seen as nothing more than a functional form of enclosure; however, in many cases they feature as essential pieces of architecture within the landscape, or statements of wealth and taste that were a major investment. A ‘turnstile’ pedestrian gate at Toxteth Cemetery presents a clear impression of security and protection.

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