Tempered Ground 2004


Red (detail) Mr & Mrs Ivan Morison, 2004

Unseen by the Gardener (still) Marie-France & Patricia Martin 2004

While previous exhibitions at the museum had investigated the building’s own history and artefacts, 2004’s show proposed collaborations between Head Gardeners and artists reflecting the many and varied roles and responses to the creation and maintenance of gardens in Britain. Establishing working dialogues with horticulturists, botanists, gardeners and caretakers, artists showing in the exhibition included: Jo Addison, Anat Ben-David, Anna Best & Paul Whitty, David Blandy, Anna Boggon, Cleo Broda, David Cotterrell, Mark Edwards, Alexa de Ferranti, Rose Frain, Chris Jones, Janice Kerbel, Andrea Liggins, Marie-France & Patricia Martin, Maslen & Mehra, Eline McGeorge, Mr & Mrs Ivan Morison, Simeon Nelson, Natacha Nisic, Lyndall Phelps, Claudia Pilsl, Abigail Reynolds and Emma Tod.

Many of the Head Gardeners the project worked with were involved in well-known horticultural and historical settings like Painshill Park, Winfield House, Lambeth Palace and the Eden Project; others cared for National Trust sites like Packwood House and Waddesdon Manor, or English Heritage gardens at Down House (Darwin’s garden), Eltham Palace and Audley End House. Still others were responsible for sites like the Peabody Trust’s Riverside Green Scheme as well as Lambeth and Westminster Councils’ busy public parks, while some nurserymen and women were selected as subjects/collaborators as a result of their own specific and idiosyncratic approaches to building and preserving plant collections.

The resulting work was exhibited at the Museum of Garden History through the summer of 2004 and was linked to exhibitions at Tate Britain and the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television, Bradford. Resonance 104.4fm scheduled a series of eight half-hour broadcasts during July and August detailing Mr & Mrs Ivan Morison’s Global Survey, a modern day expedition chronicling previously uncharted lives.

A programme of 16mm artists’ films curated by Peter Todd, Trees Plants Flowers – Lives, explored how trees, plants and flowers have been filmed and reflected on their, however fleeting, impact on our lives. Featuring work by Ute Aurand and Baerbel Freund, Stan Brakhage, Rose Lowder, Margaret Tait and Peter Todd, the programme addressed themes from Todd’s earlier programme, Garden Pieces. This programme was presented in association with an evening of films curated by William Rallison at Tate Britain, which included Peter Todd’s Garden Pieces.

The exhibition produced a publication that included commissioned essays relating to the themes of Tempered Ground as well as documentation of artists’ work and linked projects. There was also an extended programme involving the artists with local primary and secondary schools at the Dan Graham Pavilion, Hayward Gallery and a series of talks, lectures and participatory events throughout July and August. Tempered Ground was part of the 2004 Vauxhall Festival.

The exhibition was curated by Danielle Arnaud, Jordan Kaplan and Philip Norman and was supported by Arts Council England, The Cross River Partnership, The Museum of Garden History, Lambeth Arts, St George, The Swiss Embassy, Arts Council of Switzerland, The Peabody Trust’s Riverside Green Scheme and The Walcot Educational Fund.