Charles Jencks’ Garden of Cosmic Speculation, the extraordinary 30-acre sculpture garden created by the architect with his late wife, Chinese-garden designer Maggie Keswick Jencks, at their home near Dumfries, is to be the subject of a new exhibition – the first devoted to the garden in its 30-year history.
“In the design of The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, the Chinese concept of miniaturising a landscape has been writ large, taking the laws of the universe and expressing them in landform, aluminium and water,” says John. “These photographs take the viewer on a walk through the garden and explore the points where nature and design meet.”
The gardens, located in the grounds of the Jencks’s Scottish home, Portrack House, are inspired by science, mathematics and modern cosmology. Described by Daniel Libeskind as “an adventurous and personal journey through time and space”, they are certainly an extraordinary concept, featuring swirling landforms alongside compelling sculptural installations. They have been the inspiration for an orchestral composition by the American composer Michael Gandolfi and feature in the book The Long Way Home by Louise Penny. They open annually during Scotland’s Open Gardens programme to raise money for Maggie’s Centres, the architect-designed cancer-support hubs built within the grounds of NHS cancer hospitals, which each feature their own gardens in the belief that they will have a healing and beneficial effect on patients.
These pictures of the gardens have been shot throughout the year in a variety of formats, from small-sensor digital to medium-format film. They portray such scenes as the striking Chinese-inspired red footbridge and the sensually suggestive double mounds of grass, and take the landscape’s mischievous wit and nimble plays with perspective into a new dimension. The Perspective series, as they are called, come in editions of five, ranging in price from £200 to £750; each is sold framed and the buyer will also receive a digital copy of the negative. The photographs are being sold to benefit the charity Just for Kids Law.