Friday, 26 August 2011

Hortus Conclusus

This is the description architect Peter Zumthor gives to his construction in the garden of the Serpentine Gallery - a garden within a garden. Unlike in previous years, there is nothing much of beauty visible from the exterior, as you drive through Hyde Park glancing West. Indeed, the structure looks as much as anything like an industrial shed.

Fortune however favours the bold, who walk into one of the openings, turn left or right and then right or left again into the centre of the rectangular space. For there you will find a quite sumptuous display of flowers and grasses - mainly pastel colours, but with many delicate textures and hints of fragrance. I was there in mid-afternoon: it would be interesting to revisit in the late evening of a day that was hotter than yesterday.

So, I award high marks to the plantsman, Piet Oudolf for his tableau vivant; but Zumthor's architecture is surely only a very poor relation to cloisters such as to be found high on Mont St Michel!

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