On Saturday, I attended an event organised by the Landscape Institute which raised issues such as diversity, ethnicity and representation within public spaces. Key speakers were Prof. Walter Hood, a well-known American landscape architect who has recently been awarded the MacArthur Fellowship; Prof. Vron Ware from Kingston University who teaches Sociology and Gender Studies; and Ingrid Pollard, a landscape photographer who explores Britishness and racial difference through her images.
Topics such as inclusion, ethnicity, feminism and racism were interconnected within the landscape, urban or rural, and were presented and discussed in different ways. This was either through project design work, experiences with people in workshops or as part of academic research.
The title ‘Not just a landscape’ refers to the complexity of landscape design and its significant influence on culture and society. Each landscape and the space it creates has a narrative, can reveal a national identity, heritage, culture, ownership (public/private land) and can influence the relationships within a neighbourhood (eg segregation).
In my opinion, one of the most interesting aspects of the event was the power of history and how it can be revealed through landscape design. The presence of elements in the landscape such as signage, archaeological findings, engraved images of people who lived there in the past and so on, are very influential. The landscape can bring to light what we try to forget sometimes.