19 October 2011

But is it art

To the Serpentine Gallery in West London on Sunday where Piet Oudolf's flowery installation was having its last day. An exhibition of living things with a blackened backdrop, it was also a garden that was past its best by October 16. Eupatoriums were keeling over and papery actaeas made perpendicular shapes amongst the tall grasses. It was getting brown. At ground level the only flowers which were still going strong were the least unusual ones: geranium, anemone, aconitum.

It is always fun to see what the townies are up to on their time off. The Sunday garden visitor of England's heartland was replaced by an urban model in dark clothing. The touching of plants and petty pilfering were not in evidence; I heard no complaints of untidiness or requests for a cream tea. Instead of a head gardener on site a guard stood by the fire exit, not giving anything away. And so, we were having a different experience. The horticulturalists had long since come and gone. These visitors were Sunday art people, who had gone to a gallery and then the gallery next to the gallery. They looked at the display and walked away discussing it in the tones of respect usually reserved for high art.

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