In 2002 Artemis won a competition to exhibit at the Inaugural International Festival of the Gardens at Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire. Based on ‘Ideas to Steal’ this 3 month long ground breaking event was inspired by the ‘Festival International des Jardins’ at Chaumont-sur-Loire in France and ‘Les Jardin de Metis’ in Canada. It offered landscape designers and professionals from many other disciplines the chance to explore and show off their creative skills using the garden as a medium.
Artemis’ winning garden ‘Extreme Tectonics’ was influenced by extreme sports. The space was inspired by the esoteric paraphernalia associated with these adrenaline-filled pursuits, such as skateboarding, canoeing, skiing and windsurfing. This, along with all the radical materials associated with these sports, provided the underlying concept for the garden.
The garden was about shifting planes, layers of material and the play of light and shadow creating angles, glints and movement. The ‘upturned canoe’ boardwalks explored how canoes are fabricated and sat amongst the sea of planting as if they had been dragged in to shore. Bold shapes to lead the user at gently off balance angles across the ‘pond’, converging at the half pipe inspired ‘chill out pit’.
The garden is a mass of shards: darts of brilliant green, yellow, white, grey, royal blue and glinting metal. The planting aims to be a continuation of this.
A ring of grasses acts like the sea whilst purple fennel and globes of purple Allium cast rippling shadows. Chenopodium botrys ‘Green Magic’ wafts the scent of incense around the chill-out pit; colour from the sculptures sails contorts the light, making a light show best admired from here.
Another theme comes from the construction itself. We wanted the seams, welds, fulcrums and springs to show. Hence the name ‘tectonics’ applied in the sense of function and beauty.
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Extreme tectonics has to be the first garden inspired by extreme sports. Skateboarding, sailing, canoeing, skiing and windsurfing provided the creative spark, plus all the radical materials associated with these sports. The result is a garden of contradictions, where references to the sea roll across the landscape - and the hard landscaping, instead of forming a secure cocoon for plants and people, is designed to appear as though it will collapse at any moment.
The festival garden produced by Artemis is a riot of colour and contradiction - from great fabric sails to an aluminium water feature, surrounded by Allium, Purple Fennel and a ring of grasses.
Jane Owen, Writer, TV and Radio Presenter - International Festival of Gardens Official Souvenir Guide, 2002
The garden is raw; its on the edge but its not rough. I like to be able to see the construction in a garden and I think its possible to make the construction aesthetically pleasing.
Sally Mays, Partner, Artemis