To celebrate the British Library’s dazzling exhibition, Georgians Revealed: Life, Style and the Making of Modern Britain, the Library and Cityscapes have created a Georgian garden installation on the Library’s Piazza designed by landscape architect and historian Todd Longstaffe-Gowan and funded by The Sackler Trust.
Alongside such artworks as Eduardo Paolozzi’s ‘Newton’ and Antony Gormley’s ‘Planets’, the installation entitled the Georgeobelisk will remain on the Piazza for five months for visitors to enjoy and explore, and to remind us that Britain’s fascination with gardening was first sparked in the Georgian era.
The six-metre-high structure is an ephemeral tribute to the four Georges as we approach the 300th anniversary of the beginning of the Georgian period and alludes to the new Prince George with a flying putto figure.
Loosely based on the architect and playwright Sir John Vanbrugh’s unexecuted entrance gate to the forecourt at Castle Howard in Yorkshire, the Georgeobelisk represents temporary constructions that were very popular in 18th-century Britain. Throughout the Georgian era similar structures were thrown up frequently at private or public entertainments, in town and country, to mark special occasions or important historical events.
The legacy of these Georgian temporary theatrical structures can be seen in today's pop-up culture, which also embraces transience and celebration, in order to adapt to the demands for flexibility in contemporary urban life.
Acclaimed landscape gardener and historian Todd Longstaffe-Gowan says: ‘The Georgeobelisk is a towering gimcrack confection set in a scrap of pastoral parkland that aims to evoke the Georgians' passion for extravagant temporary caprice’.
Co-curator of the exhibition Dr Karen Limper-Herz, who devised the garden section of Georgians Revealed, says: ‘The Georgeobelisk is a wonderful introduction and link to the fascinating gardening documents in the exhibition where we show rarely seen material illustrating the beginnings of the British obsession with gardens and garden design’.