Tate Britain  Linbury Galleries
3 June – 30 August 2004

The garden has long provided inspiration for artists just as art has long inspired gardeners. To coincide with the Royal Horticultural Society’s Bicentenary and the Year of Gardening, Tate Britain will present the first major exhibition to examine the relationship of the garden and British art. Covering the last two centuries, Art of the Garden will bring together over one hundred works by artists ranging from John Constable and JMW Turner to Lucian Freud, Ian Hamilton Finlay and Gary Hume, and will include new work made especially for the exhibition.

Art of the Garden will take a broad view, analysing the domestic garden, allotments, garden suburbs, the artist’s own backyard and imaginary gardens. It will showcase iconic paintings such as John Singer Sargent’s Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose 1885-6 and The Badminton Game 1972-3 by David Inshaw. It will also highlight significant artist’s gardens, including Ian Hamilton Finlay’s garden, Little Sparta, in Scotland, and Derek Jarman’s garden at Dungeness, and investigate the influence of colour theory on the planting schemes of the great garden designer Gertrude Jekyll.

The opening section, Thresholds and Prospects looks at the garden in relation to the wider landscape, as a space that mediates between town and country, between the built and the natural environment. This section will also be concerned with the garden as an extension of the artist’s studio, the threshold across which the external world is viewed and contemplated. Important works here are paintings by Spencer Gore and Stanley Spencer as well as John Constable’s two extraordinary depictions of his father’s flower and kitchen gardens in Suffolk, painted from a back window, in which the gardens are seen as a foreground to the agricultural land beyond.

The Secret Garden considers the tradition of the garden as an idyllic place apart from the modern, everyday world, and moves on to gardens as retreats into childhood, nostalgia or make-believe. Here are images of paradise and of lost, secret and derelict domains, of spaces invested with erotic and spiritual potential. Works in this section will range from Samuel Palmer’s idyllic visions of the English countryside, and Richard Dadd’s mysterious young man in a bower of 1853, to Sarah Jones’s photographs in which the contemporary suburban garden takes on an almost sinister mystery.

The non-horticultural, intellectual garden is investigated in Fragments and Inscriptions, through the media of painting, printmaking, photography and sculpture. Among others, it foregrounds the work of the photographers Edwin Smith and Martin Parr. A major figure in this section is Ian Hamilton Finlay who, at his Lanarkshire home, has created an astonishing, classically-inspired garden, in which sculptural works carrying poetic inscriptions lurk among trees and shrubs.

Coloured Grounds is concerned with the idea that gardens and paintings are both dedicated to the exploration of colour. This section will include one of Gertrude Jekyll’s copies of paintings by JMW Turner as well as images, in both watercolour and early colour photography, of planting schemes she created for her own garden at munstead Wood. Also here are Patrick Heron’s important series of garden paintings of 1956, evoking the colour and atmosphere of his garden on the Cornish coast. It will also feature a spectacular installation by Anya Gallaccio in which ten thousand roses will literally embody the “coloured ground” of this section’s theme.

That the garden is a constructed milieu, where nature and artifice become more and more indistinct, is increasingly recognised and so the garden’s metaphorical associations grow more ambiguous. The final gallery, Representing and Intervening, is devoted to contemporary work and reveals how a range of artists working today, from Marc Quinn to David Rayson, use the conceptual and visual frame of the garden to highlight our uneasy relationship with nature.

Art of the Garden is curated by Martin Postle, Mary Horlock and Ben Tufnell from Tate in collaboration with Nicholas Alfrey and Stephen Daniels from the University of Nottingham.

A fully-illustrated catalogue (256 pp, 170 colour illustrations), published by Tate Publishing, accompanies the exhibition at Tate Britain. Art of the Garden edited by Martin Postle, Stephen Daniels and Nicholas Alfrey will be published in June and available in both hardback (£40.00) and paperback (£29.99). The wide-ranging list of authors contributing to the book includes art historians, garden historians, social commentators, critics and curators. Between them they examine subjects as varied as the cross-fertilisation between painting and design in the work of key garden designers; the rise of the suburbs, and the place of the garden in literature, illustration and the life of the nation. The catalogue also showcases a range of artist’s gardens including those of Patrick Heron, Ian Hamilton Finlay and Derek Jarman.

Tate is also publishing a children’s book to accompany the exhibition. In the Garden contains nearly two hundred illustrations to inspire and engage children of all ages. In the Garden, edited by Katy Couprie and Antonin Louchard will be published in June and is available in hardback only (£8.99).

Ernst & Young
Nick Land, UK chairman of Ernst & Young, said:
We are delighted to sponsor Art of the Garden. It is the tenth major exhibition that we have been associated with and our fifth with Tate. It is the first time, however, that we will be supporting an exhibition that includes contemporary works.

Our sponsorship is part of our continuing commitment to the arts, including galleries, museums and other community art initiatives. We recognise the need for long-term and sustained investment and are pleased that our support makes it possible for the public to have access to such world class exhibitions. For further information contact Nicky Major Call 020 7951 1132 Email major@UK.EY.com

A new BBC series Art of the Garden, presented by Diarmuid Gavin, is a history of landscape gardening based entirely around the three giants of gardening, Capability Brown, Humphrey Repton, and Gertrude Jekyll. The three one hour films will focus on the actual events that led to the creation of one landscape masterpiece and will be shown this year on BBC Two. The series also looks at other gardens of breathtaking beauty that show each particular gardener’s development and life story.
For further information contact Kay Breeze Call 020 8752 6495 Email kay.breeze@bbc.co.uk

The Royal Horticultural Society, the UK’s leading gardening charity, celebrates its Bicentenary in 2004 with a feast of special events and activities for gardening enthusiasts of all kinds. The RHS has designated 2004 the Year of Gardening and themed activities, exhibitions and events have been organised by a diverse range of organisations across the UK, from community groups and museums through to floral societies and special interest groups, with something to inspire, delight and inform everyone. Full details of the programme can also be viewed online at www.rhs.org.uk/bicentenary.
For further information contact Julia Sweidan Call 020 7821 3002 Email julia.sweidan@rhs.org.uk