Thinking the Sculpture Garden : Art, Plant, Landscape book cover
1st Edition

Thinking the Sculpture Garden
Art, Plant, Landscape

Edited By

Penny Florence

ISBN 9780367190248
Published March 3, 2020 by Routledge
240 Pages 21 Color & 90 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This innovative book poses two, deceptively simple, questions: what is a sculpture garden, and what happens when you give equal weight to the main elements of landscape, planting and artwork?

Its wide-ranging frame of reference, including the USA, Europe and Japan, is brought into focus through Tremenheere Sculpture Garden, Cornwall, with which the book begins and ends. Effectively less than 15 years old, and largely the work of one man, Tremenheere affords an opportunity to examine as work-in-progress the creation of a new kind of sculpture garden. Including a historical overview, the book traverses multiple ways of seeing and experiencing sculpture gardens, culminating in an exploration of their relevance as 'cultural ecology' in the context of globalisation, urbanisation and climate change. The thinking here is non-dualist and broadly aligned with New Materialisms and Material Feminisms to explore our place as humans in the non-human world on which we depend. Eminent contributors, including John Dixon Hunt, George Descombes, Bernard Lassus and David Leatherbarrow, approach these issues through practices and theories of landscape architecture; garden and art making; history and writing; and philosophy.

Richly illustrated with over 100 images, including a colour plate section, the book will primarily appeal to those engaged in professional or academic research, along with sculpture garden visitors, who will find new and surprising ways of experiencing plants and art in natural and urban settings.

Table of Contents



i.​ Note on Method: Diffracting The Sculpture Garden

ii. Introduction. The Ground

Part I Tremenheere Sculpture Garden

  1. Tremenheere: Place of the Long Stones. Art, Plants, Landscape​.
    Penny Florence
  2. The Seed in the Stone:
  3. Peter Randall-Page’s Exploration of Energetic Structure.
    Penny Florence

  4. Mono-ha: Paying Attention. Japanese Art in/of the Garden
    Gay Watson

Part II Placing History in/of the Garden

4. Sculpture Gardens and Sculpture in Gardens.
John Dixon Hunt

5. The Garden: Art Object.
Bernard Lassus

6. From Pedestal to Place.
David Leatherbarrow

7.Little Sparta and the Neo-Classical Re-Arming of the Sculpture Garden. Patrick Eyres

8. How to Make a Path. The Swiss Way Project 1991
Georges Descombes

Part III​ ​Return to Tremenheere

9. ​Landscape, Art, Plant, Event
Penny Florence ​

10. ​Thinking the Sculpture Garden
Penny Florence

Appendix. Tremenheere Lists and Map.

Author Biographies

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Penny Florence is Professor Emerita at The Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, UK. Previous appointments include Chair of Humanities and Design Sciences, Art Center, Pasadena, USA; Head of Research Programmes at The Slade; Professor of Contemporary Arts and Director of Research at Falmouth University and Co-Director of Women's Studies, Univeristy of Exeter, UK. She continues to exhibit art works and films and she is a published poet. She has also given public performances/exhibitions of digital poetry at Tate Modern, Tate Britain and internationally. Her international publications include a number of books and many articles on issues related to art, poetry and feminist philosophy/theory, including especially sculpture and word-image (sculpture, poetry and painting). She has published on the sculptors Barbara Hepworth and Liz Larner among others, and contributed to the two-volume book Sculpture in 20th-century Britain (Henry Moore Institute). The French poet Stéphane Mallarmé in relation to painting is another sustained interest, as are feminism, innovation, experimentalism and the general shifting of boundaries.


‘What happens if you take landscape, art and planting as equals in the Sculpture Garden?’ This is the question, ‘deceptively simple’, with which editor Penny Florence sets out. Essays ebb and flow around these common themes, arranging objects and ideas like Lee Ufan’s ‘tapestries of intimate breathing’. Gay Watson writes that the Buddhist philosophy of complementarity and the promotion of awareness was a ‘core intention’ of the Cornish Tremenheere Sculpture Garden – this book’s touchstone. Rippling the contradictory opposition of categories that has patterned western discourse on site-specificity and nature-culture relation so far, the intention of this ‘other’ mode of thinking-writing-breathing is to change consciousness. It’s a wonderful achievement with a beautiful structure, pace and energy. Quite unlike any other book on sculpture gardens I know!

Jane Rendell, author of The Architecture of Psychoanalysis (2017) and Site-Writing (2011) is Professor of Critical Spatial Practice at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL.


This book is a delight: at once sharply focussed and diffused, it draws together some of the foremost theorists and practitioners of garden design, and invites us to rethink our understanding not just of sculpture in gardens but of gardens as the sculpting of experience. A hybrid volume exploring hybridity, Florence’s book combines intense insights and compelling overviews as it ranges from the established excitements of Little Sparta and the Louisiana Sculpture Park to the ongoing creation of Cornwall’s Tremenheere, and from the Mono-Ha school to the betweenness of Bernard Lassus.

Professor Stephen Bending, University of Southampton