Text and Images by Pat Naldi, PhD Student, Central Saint Martins
Pat Naldi, PhD student at Central Saint Martins was selected for the 2016 UAL Art for the Environment International Residency (AER) at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Here is Pat’s report:
Yorkshire Sculpture Park (30 Aug to 18 Sep 2016)
Outside London’s King’s Cross rail station at the beginning of King’s Boulevard that leads through the King’s Cross estate towards Central Saint Martins, stands a 12-metre high oak tree recently transported over from Germany; the tree has its own passport. This is one of 400 mature trees planted within the King’s Cross estate development. The 67-acre site – the largest mixed-use development in single ownership in central London for over 150 years – is being developed to attain a particular urban, and neoliberal image of, and, as a view, and as a result of a capitalist ‘point of view’. In this respect the current urban development of the King’s Cross estate is akin to the rural redevelopment that the 500-acre Bretton Estate – in which Yorkshire Sculpture Park, (YSP) the host of my residency, is located – underwent over the centuries, but more specifically during the 18th and 19th centuries. The Bretton Estate is a perfect historical example of the transition that occurred in England during the eighteenth century whereby the landed aristocracy transformed the hunting woodland into the landscape park, at which point the invention of scenery took place. Influenced by travelling on the European Grand Tour, landed estates were re-fashioned to resemble the picturesque arcadian aesthetics as exemplified by the paintings of Claude Lorrain, Nicolas Poussin and other contemporaries. This extreme landscaping involved moving and planting trees, creating artificial lakes, and reshaping of hills and valleys. When viewed though the windows of the country houses, these re-designed landscapes reflected the arcadian imagery of the paintings hanging in their interior. The effect of the pursuit of this idealised gaze was to compose and organise a class-based ‘framing’ of an ideal landscape ‘view’ that was un-peopled, and at the same time eradicated any traces of an untamed land of working labour, thus instilling a notion of separation and observation. The framing of the ideal view visually eradicated the gaps within which existed the working countryside, the sweat and toil of the land, the labourers, and the lower classes.
Photo: Parkland, Pat Naldi YSP 2016