AAJ Press
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Charles Jencks: Metaphysical Landscapes at Jupiter Artland

Charles Jencks – artist, architectural theorist and writer,  and landscape architect – has completed a major landform Cells of Life, developed over five years, at the entrance of Jupiter Artland, near Edinburgh. It is supported by a gallery exhibition of previously unseen studio works, Metaphysical Landscapes, which includes schemes, sketches, models and a video piece that have informed the work. The second part of the exhibition illuminates Jencks’ studio practice with sculptural works that have been used as models and inspiration for other  projects including Northumberlandia, a large scale landform near Newcastle.

The Life Forms consist of eight landforms and a connecting causeway surround four lakes and a flat parterre for sculpture exhibits. The theme is the life of the cell, cells as the basic units of life, and the way one cell divides into two in stages called mitosis (presented in a red sandstone rill). Curving concrete seats have cell models surrounded by Liesegang rocks. Their red iron concentric circles bear an uncanny relationship to the many organelles inside the units of life. From above, the layout presents their early division into membranes and nuclei, a landform celebration of the cell as the basis of life.

In 2004, his design, Landform Ueda, at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, won the Gulbenkian Prize for Museums. His landscape work is inspired by prehistoric landforms as well as more recent themes that are known to underlie nature such as strange attractors, genetic organisation and the fractal geometry of nature. Seeking to base a language of design on the basic units of the universe he has constructed a Black Hole landscape in Beijing Olympic Forest Park, DNA sculpture in Cambridge and Time Garden in Milan. These ideas are discussed in his Garden of Cosmic Speculation, (2003), a book that explains in detail his Dumfriesshire garden and how it abstracts various underlying laws. These stylisations become a hybrid practise of sculpture, words and gardens he calls landforming.

The Universe in the Landscape: Landforms by Charles Jencks. is published in May 2011 ( Frances Lincoln.£40 hardback) in conjunction with the Jupiter Artland exhibition. Jencks’ publications on architecture and the arts include The Language of Post-Modern Architecture (1977); The Iconic Building, the Power of Enigma ( 2005); What is Post-Modernism? (1995) and Critical Modernism (2007).

Jupiter Artland is a sculpture foundation located in 80 acres of woodland in the grounds of Bonnington House, just outside Edinburgh presenting a collection of contemporary international sculpture in a constantly-evolving environment that has welcomed over 30,000 visitors since opening in May 2009. The site for each work at Jupiter has been selected by the artist, with works on permanent display by Anish Kapoor and Antony Gormley, and site-specific commissions by artists including Ian Hamilton Finlay, Marc Quinn and Laura Ford. In 2010 site-specific installations commissioned from Nathan Coley, Jim Lambie, Peter Liversidge and Cornelia Parker.

Open: Thursday-Sunday from 10am – 5pm from 13 May – 18 September 2011.

Tickets: £8.50 (concessions available) are available to pre-book.



About jeh

Jeremy Hunt is Director of the AAJ Press (Art & Architecture Journal / Press) – a writer and consultant on art and public space


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