While trawling through Behance (for inspiration) I came across some photographs of the Giardino dei Tarocchi (Garden of the Tarot) created by the French artist Niki de Saint Phalle (1930 – 2002). Immediately intrigued, I took a virtual walk through the eyes of its visitors. Feelings of awe at the kaleidoscope of colour, in the form of imaginary beasts and coves were mixed with feelings of unease.
A relatively new park, opened to the public in 1998, it immediately reminded me of Antoni Gaudi’s ( 1852 – 1926) Güell Park (now a World Heritage Site), constructed between 1900 and 1914 and opened to the public in 1926.
I fell in love with Antoni Gaudi’s works in my 20’s not appreciating the full scope of his influential genius until many years later. Gaudi’s works were for it’s time unique, organic, and psychedelic in their imagination. I wasn’t disappointed when I finally visited Barcelona and got to experience the light hearted playfulness of his benevolent forms in the park.
I can’t help but feel that the childlike innocence of expression in Güell Park, has been long forgotten in artistic works that have followed in his path.
Swiss artist Bruno Weber (1931 – 2011), a contemporary of Niki de Saint Phalle, created the similarly fantastical Bruno Weber Park, in Switzerland. It too explores mythical creatures in marvelous landscapes.
Dr Evermor’s Forevertron, built by Tom Avery in the 1980’s has a futuristic theme and upon taking a virtual tour it becomes obvious where Pixar’s, Wall-e and Blue Sky Studio’s, Robots characters and landscapes owe their inspiration.
Spiritual and Hindu themes are explored at Victoria’s Way, a meditation park, in Ireland. Blissful black granite statues of Ganesh, the loving elephant-faced god, the remover of obstacles and protector, are showcased in open parkland. The spiritual lightness of the statues of Ganesh are juxtaposed with haunting sculptures of Siddartha’s transition from distress to enlightenment, offering compelling vistas for self-reflection.
Finally, and perhaps my favourite, is the Garden of Cosmic Speculation, Scotland. A vision of Charles Jencks, the garden’s visitor is immersed in a landscape of universal wonder at the sheer majesty and inventiveness of the cosmos through human expression.
As cherry blossoms remind us of spring, visionary environments speak to our deepest calling: a remembering of who we really are…