Some Little Histories of Gardens and Playing continues an ongoing fascination with the history of Zoological Gardens, the Great Voyages of Exploration and the subsequent development of classification systems. Certain established modes of engaging with natural history are placed alongside possible alternatives inspired by the educational models developed in the early 19th Century and later in the 20th Century. These emphasized the role of playing as the fundamental framework through which to engage with the world.
By reusing an existing work in public space titled The Interrupted Line from 2021, it’s formal structure is used to ’frame’ a Persian garden alongside a baroque garden, a Schrebergarten (allotment) and finally a low table, inspired by the Korsi and/or Katasu table.
The Persian garden is divided into four parts (referring to the Chahar-Bagh, Chahar meaning four) with a water source in the middle. Fruit trees, a ginkgo and willow tree together with plants chosen to invite birds and insects are intended to create a space that will change with the seasons.
Although the baroque parterre is also divided into four sections, in contrast, it is composed of formal elements that require constant maintenance and preservation and precludes any natural development or change over time.
A 3D printed kangaroo as a sculptural element of the parterre is painted in linear segments in seven different colours reflecting the process of its production and perhaps ends up embodying the incompleteness of our representations of nature. The kangaroo was chosen to refer to the painting made by George Stubbs (The Kongouro from New Holland, 1772) under the commission of Joseph Banks and based on some sketches and an inflated skin of an animal he had collected from Australia. In the absence of live models, the artist worked from written and verbal descriptions provided by Banks. The image became the standard visual representation of the Kangaroo even though it does not really look like one.
The process of modelling the Kangaroo for the 3D print followed a similar form of written and verbal descriptions and the sculpture is not based on any one Kangaroo.
The inclusion of the Schrebergarten in the installation is intended as a bridge between the idea of gardens and the space of play or community established with the low table and platforms in the center of the installation.
Dr Schreber advocated the installation of playgrounds for children (1843) and founded the Schreberverein zur Förderung des Jugendpflege, des Familienlebens, der Volkserziehung und Volksgesundung, an organisation that called for children’s playground and later became a programme for installing family gardens all over Germany. The aim was the improvement of health and education through sports and play in the open air. The gardens not only promoted health care but also assured food in the large European Industrial towns, especially during the two world wars.
In the late 1950s, it was in fact the war that fueled the revision of the role of architecture in public space by the structuralist movement that called for the rebuilding of human communities. The over 700 playgrounds of Aldo Van Eyck had precisely this mission to transform city life by harnessing the uniqueness of the mentality of the child. Van Eyck’s playgrounds subsequently influenced the playground revolution movement of the 60s and 70s, and it is this history that the low table in the installation aims to rekindle. The table is surrounded by concrete platforms of varying heights and is a space to be utilized throughout the run time of the exhibition for talks, discussions and as a space for the community.
The hut, a common feature in a Schrebergarten was built using scrap wood material and in collaboration with a number of children as an homage to and an extension of the ideas developed by Carl Theodor Sorenson and John Bertelsen in their Junk playground which they designed around the end of the second world war called The Emdrup Junk Playground ( Jongensland).
The local community will be invited to take care of the gardens by watering the plants periodically.