William Martin (garden designer)

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William Martin (Born Rutherglen Scotland 25 June 1953) is an award winning plantsman[1] and garden designer (or "Spatial Dramatist"[2]). His garden Wigandia in south west Victoria, at Noorat was twice voted Australia's best garden.[3][4] Martin, who has lived in Australia since 1965, has had no formal art training.[5]

Approach[edit]

Martin is an outspoken advocate for a new approach to gardening in Australia. He eschews approaches to gardening in Australia that emphasise rigorous preparation of soil and selection of plants based on traditions. Climactic suitability is taken for granted as a necessary prerequisite for inclusion. Writing in Australian magazine Your Garden, Martin has written: "Choose the right plant types for your given growing conditions and area and the rest will fall into place".[6] Elsewhere, Martin is described as "independent of mind, individual in style".[7] He has argued that most Australian gardening is still in a "Northern Hemisphere style" and therefore does not truly reflect Australian identity.[8] However, this does not by any means suggest a focus on endemic Australian plants.

Influences[edit]

Martin's favourite gardens include the one created by Derek Jarman at Dungeness and Ian Hamilton Finlay's Little Sparta.[4] In a blog entry Martin has himself cited an early Australian painting by John Glover as 'lurking in his sub-conscious'[9] as a primary source.

Wigandia[edit]

Martin began work on Wigandia, named after the Wigandia caracasana,[10] in 1989.[11] Martin's perspective as an artist can be said to be in a constant state of flux. Early written work on Wigandia frequently highlight his objection to the "pampered woody European legacy" that has informed the Australian garden in the past.[12] However, with the establishment of Wigandia as a working model of what can be achieved with minimal irrigation, Martin's attention has shown signs of shifting focus to the development of an understanding of his garden as art. Media attention may have 'focused' on the 'dry'[13] aspect of this garden for its own purposes, considering the prolonged drought of Eastern Australia at the time.

The four hectare property that encompasses Wigandia, has been said to have begun life as 'nothing but a horse paddock, heavily grazed and aching with weeds'.[14] Martin has variously described his garden as 'a series of sketches, but (also) a single canvas' [14] and elsewhere, 'a single canvas with every area interlinked'.[15] He has also attested to his interest in geographic references by stating that a primary concern was to 'ensure the garden harmonises with the surrounding landscape of Mount Noorat'.[16] This forms a key foundation in the colour selection at Wigandia where the paths and interspaces feature crushed red volcanic scoria sourced from southwest Victoria.[17] In a gesture to cultural references, the frequent use of corrugated iron, a key feature of construction in rural Australia, is used in the garden as a barrier material for fencing and other installations.[18]

Martin has been described as an artist who "explores the complex relationships between landscape, environment, culture and society."[19] To the extent that such a statement can be said to be anything other than general in nature, it applies to Martin in respect to his elevation of garden design to the realm of art (as differentiated from design); a concept virtually unheard of in the Australian context and still in embryonic form internationally.

Interpretations[edit]

After a visit in 2014 the noted American designer James Golden observed the place of Martin's work in the international lexicon of garden art when he wrote: "Few gardens I’ve ever visited so completely reflect the spirit of their place–and this place is extraordinary." [20]

Martin's own stature on the global stage has been reflected in his interpretation of his relationship with Golden reported in a New York Times article pointing to a belief they both share of “gardens as places for the mind instead of places for shovel and spade.” [21]

Public Works[edit]

Martin's commissioned works are invariably in private spaces which preclude access. Some noteworthy exceptions exist. In 2011/12 Martin worked on the garden adjoining the courthouse and local council buildings in Camperdown, Victoria, Australia. [22] In a rare public comment on his work Martin described the work as having been inspired by: "...the genius of the space...[and] I wanted to capture some of that wildness…that wonder of being in a type of Gondwana land.” [23]

Martin's Wigandia is not open to the public.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Australian Open Garden Scheme". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2010-10-14. Retrieved 2011-12-05. 
  2. ^ "The Gondwana we never had.". Williammartinswigandiaagardenofthesun.blogspot.com. 2011-07-06. Retrieved 2011-12-05. 
  3. ^ The Garden, January 2005, pp. 36-41
  4. ^ a b Gardens to Visit (14 February 2004). "Beware of the bogeyman". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 2011-12-05. 
  5. ^ "Artist William Martin". Saatchionline.com. Retrieved 2011-12-05. 
  6. ^ Your Garden, Summer 2006, p. 135
  7. ^ Your Garden, March 2000, p. 38
  8. ^ "Gardening Australia - Fact Sheet: Wigandia". Abc.net.au. 2006-08-26. Retrieved 2011-12-05. 
  9. ^ http://williammartinswigandiaagardenofthesun.blogspot.com.au/2013/03/my-greatest-influence.html
  10. ^ "Burke's Backyard > Fact Sheets > Wigandia Garden". Burkesbackyard.com.au. Retrieved 2011-12-05. 
  11. ^ The Garden, January 2005, p. 38
  12. ^ Guest, Sarah (2001), Gardens in Australia, New Holland Publishers, p. 100
  13. ^ "When Jamie Durie Met Oprah". Au.lifestyle.yahoo.com. 2008-01-25. Retrieved 2011-12-05. 
  14. ^ a b Lamb, E., 'Award winning', The Warrnambool Standard Magazine, 2 November 2002, p. 3
  15. ^ 'Under the volcano', Gardens Illustrated
  16. ^ 'Under the volcano',Gardens Illustrated
  17. ^ "Gardening Australia - Transcript - Episode 28". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2006-08-26. Retrieved 2011-12-05. 
  18. ^ Harpur, J., 2005, Gardens in perspective, The Octopus Publishing Group, p. 72
  19. ^ Nottle, T., 1996, 'Gardens of the Sun,' Kangaroo Press, Australia
  20. ^ http://federaltwist.com/wigandia/
  21. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/17/garden/the-good-for-nothing-garden.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all&
  22. ^ http://www.standard.net.au/story/796923/garden-designers-camperdown-project-a-welcome-change-of-pace/
  23. ^ http://www.camperdownchronicle.com.au/2012/01/gondwana-dreaming/

External links[edit]