Messages, Medals and Memorials Deeds Not Words

Sculpting the Suburban Landscape


19th June to 30th September 2007

Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture (MoDA)

The taste of the English in the cultivation of the land, and in what is called landscape gardening, is unrivalled. They have studied nature intently, and discover an exquisite sense of her beautiful forms and harmonising combinations. lWashington Irving (1783-1859), The Sketch Book, Rural Life in England

MoDAs Sixth Annual Outdoor Show Sculpting the Suburban Landscape challenges the notion of the English traditional domestic garden in Multi-cultural Britain. It complements MoDAs indoor exhibition, The Suburban Landscape, Two Hundred years of Gardens and Gardening.

Each of the ten plots, five front gardens and five back gardens, has been landscaped by artists with a keen eye on the changing nature of the garden. The demise of the status of the English rose in the Victorian garden (with its hybrids named after duchesses, princesses and millionaires wives), and the new obsession with jewel-encrusted mobile phones and designer Bling-Bling jewellery is captured in the Hedged Garden in Plot 6. One of the most striking twentieth century gardens, made by wishful thinkers, artists and writers in the most unusual and inhospitable of spaces, is acknowledged in the stone area between Plots 4 and 5. The austerity, formality and structure imposed by the Institute of Landscape Architects, founded in 1929, on garden designers, is relayed by the time-based photo-etched motifs on the lawn created by the ever-changing effects of the sunlight in Plot 9.

Gardens are places where plants, adults, children, and wildlife interact. Some are welcome and others not. The unwelcome visitors are greeted with a scarecrow to frighten them off, such as the variety found in Plot 2. Those that are welcome are treated like visitors to a National Trust Garden, entertained with a family day out with theme park attractions. The spirit of this is captured in Plot 10, the site of a large interactive gardening book that visitors can engage with. And Plot 3 is the home of a beehive surrounded by artwork with which the suburbanite visitor can interact, like a bee cross-pollinating.

Suburban gardens have traditionally been sources of pride and an opportunity to ‘keep up with the Joneses. Pride is now being replaced by practicalities, with washing lines full of clothes such as those found in Plot 8. Plot 5 celebrates the beginnings of a carport (paving over the existing garden sculptures), as parking restrictions and the congestion charge force cars off the streets into the front garden. And Plot 4 explores the way in which, after a heavy nights partying, the revellers are met by next mornings broken bottles and a private garden of weeds, ready for the next nights excesses.

The garden has shifted from a haven of peace, tranquillity and beauty to a means of coping with modern day indulgences, with the accumulation of possessions overflowing from the house into the shed. However in Plot 7, the painted canvases in the garden shed, and the caravan in Plot 1 (both a stationary retreat and a movable refuge full of gardening tips) remind us of the pleasures of landscaping the English Garden.

Interactive Map

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Funded By:
suburban/sculpting_julia_dennis.jpgThe Untold
by Julia Dennis
Artist Statement
suburban/sculpting_elaine_arkell.jpgPest and Personalities
by Elaine Arkell and Cheryl James
Artist Statement
by Sen McGlinn and Sonja van Kerkhoff
Artist Statement
suburban/sculpting_catherine_gamble.jpgThe Petit Versailles of a Drinker
by Catherine Gamble
Artist Statement
suburban/sculpting_jolanta_jagiello.jpgJolanta Jagiello
by How does your garden grow?
Artist Statement
suburban/sculpting_amrit_row.jpgNew Suburban Garden
by Amrit Row
Artist Statement
suburban/sculpting_darryl_moore.jpgAll that Glitters
by Darryl Moore
Artist Statement
suburban/sculpting_grace_adams.jpgSuburban Gardens
by Grace Adams
Artist Statement
suburban/sculpting_deborah_gardner.jpgThe International Line
by Deborah Gardner
Artist Statement
suburban/sculpting_mari_terauchi.jpgPlay with me, watch with me
by Mari Terauchi
Artist Statement
suburban/sculpting_sumi_perera.jpgMad dogs and Englishman
by Sumi Perera
Artist Statement
suburban/sculpting_paul_greco.jpgHouse and Gardens
by Paul Greco
Artist Statement