Christie’s Garden Commission 2012

Robert Smithson said that ‘art degenerates when it approaches gardening’ and it was with some discomfort that I accepted the invitation from Christie’s of London to participate in a photographic commission of Britain’s ‘finest’ historic gardens.  I’d always felt there was something sinister about ‘quality’ gardens or ideas of paradise within the tranquil confines of the walled garden and as Smithson reminds us ‘dreadful things happened in half forgotten Edens’.

Christie’s Press Release

At the beginning of the Summer, a group of photographic artists were invited to take part in a competition to celebrate 25 years of the Garden Of The Year Award. The photographs were judged by a panel of experts for their originality and beauty, and measured by their success at capturing the essence of each garden in its historic setting. An inaugural exhibition at Christie’s of the photographs, including the winning entries will continue until Wednesday, 18 November 2009, and reopen at Christie’s King Street again in January. The exhibition will then be transported to Blenheim Palace, the most recent winners of the award itself, where it will remain for the first month of their visiting season.

Ricky Roundell, Vice Chairman, Christie’s said, “There is an exceptional degree of innovation and an extraordinary variety of approach illustrated in the photographs submitted for the 25th anniversary Garden of the Year Award photographic competition and exhibition sponsored by Christie’s and the Historic Houses Association. The photographers have produced a wonderful array of concepts from wide views to close-ups, beautifully capturing the diversity displayed in these famous English gardens. The exhibition is a great testament to the dedication and enthusiasm of the gardeners and owners of each Garden of the Year Award winner from the last twenty-five years. The public exhibition of photographs at Christie’s King Street is the perfect celebration of twenty-five years of the award, of the gardens, and the photographers who have captured their spirit and beauty so well.”

Philippe Garner, International Head of Photographs and 20th Century Decorative Art & Design, Christie’s said, “We decided to invite a number of photographers who weren’t necessarily garden photographers, but whom we felt we could trust to tackle the subject with confidence and express a very personal perspective. We wanted variety: photographers who work on an ambitious or heroic scale and also those whose approach would be more intimate; we wanted colour but also black and white. The aim was to achieve a group of works that would surprise and stimulate, and I have found the outcome immensely satisfying. Christie’s business is in selling works of art that already exist, but there is something special and exciting about bringing new works into being.”

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