The World of Made Things

The subject of my talk at the National Green Centre on Sunday will be “Landscaping and Art Making: Two sides of the same coin”. The coin, itself, is the value we place on our surroundings. While the natural environment is unquestionably the soul of our surroundings, I will focus my talk on the world of made things.

In his latest novel, Vermont writer Jay Parini includes a letter Nathanial Hawthorn wrote to Herman Melville after reading Melville’s new novel, “Moby Dick.” Hawthorn praises the book with these words: “It is an admirable if strange thing to add to this world of made things. Like every great and noble work of the imagination, it changes how we think, act, dream.”

Landscaping is an admirable occupation when it honors nature by emulating its beauty and respecting its tenants. Art making in the out of doors must also respect the laws of nature if such efforts are to be admired. The difference between the two might best be measured by degrees of strangeness. How much, as made things, do they make us think, act, dream?

To help examine the value we place on our surroundings I will drop five coins on the table in front of the audience at the National Green Centre. Each coin represents an approach to design. Each approach explores a range of landscaping and art making possibilities.

1. Local Precedent to Exotic Import
2. Serviceable Pragmatism to Soulful Expressionism
3. Cerebral Exercise to Hard Labor
4. Skill Craft to  Eye Candy
5. Opportune Happenstance to Willful Intention