Ann Pearce on “Girly Gardens – or not?”

February 15, 2008

in Uncategorized

Comment on Bridget Rosewell’s article by Ann Pearce


I would like to begin my reply to Bridget’s response by quoting Stendhal… ‘what we find beautiful is the promise of happiness’.  As we all know, the pursuit of happiness is not only a deeply personal one but also highly elusive and ever changing due to the complex world we live in. Therefore there are as many styles of beauty (or gorgeousness!!) as there are visions of happiness.

As a designer I aim, always, to create gardens that are deeply personal to each and every one of my clients and believe that this empathy must also extend to the site, the house and the environment in which they are placed if I am to succeed in touching something deep within my clients as well as capturing the very essence of the site. Therefore it is not surprising to me that the gardens I’ve designed over the last eight years in London have clean, simple lines because they were designed not only to resonate with the architecture that surrounds them but also with my clients inner desires.

What has become apparent to me is that this desire for simplicity and order has little to do with gender, but a great deal to do with our psychological needs. My clients were not only drawn to me (and me to them) because of a mutual liking for clean, minimalist spaces but also about what we sensed and recognised in one another. As Alain de Botton describes in his very thought provoking book “the Architecture of Happiness” ‘we respect a style which can move us away from what we fear to what we crave’. The feeling of loss of self and control that many city dwellers experience due to the frantic lives they lead means they are drawn to and have an immense need for tranquillity. With senses overloaded on a daily basis, my gardens in London have been about re-connecting people, not only to the wonderful transience of nature and life itself, but to their innermost feelings. Quiet, serene spaces where they can, as Kamo no Chomei so beautifully expressed in his ‘Tale of the Ten Foot Square Hut’ (1212) ‘attend to the murmuring of their own souls’.

As a footnote, It will be interesting to see how my work changes and develops now that I‘ve chosen to live in the beautiful south Oxfordshire countryside where I’m surrounded by big open skies, gently rolling fields and birdsong……

Ann Pearce

Ann Pearce’s website

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