Brief- Seeing Differently

Developed Brief 

This project is a critical reflection of Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage and the landscape surrounding it. The process of critiquing the site is through a mode of ‘seeing differently’ and in particular the altering of perception through the eyes of four protagonists who each make the landscape their habitat; Derek Jarman, The Black Redstart, Derek Jarman’s Garden and the landscape of Dungeness. Each protagonist not only has a different way of seeing Dungeness, but they also present a methodology for adapting the site to suit them. These methodologies have been re- imagined as design methodologies and act as the mode of practice for generating a proposal for the site. The proposal aims not only to critique the site, but challenges the perception of the viewer to see the site through the eyes of each protagonist. 

1.) Derek 1:20 – Human Scale

Key Words

  • Familiarity 
  • Touch 
  • Hands
  • Life vs. death 
  • Growth 

Methodology 

  1. Accidental Gardening
  2. Beachcombing for Treasures 
  3. Formality vs. Informality 
  4. Pharacopeia 

How does Derek See Dungeness? 

Derek see’s Dungeness from a familiar, human scale. He sees the his garden as a paradise in the other-wordly landscape of Dungeness. He views the outside from the security of Prospect Cottage and from the comfort of his bedroom, ‘The Spring Room’. He see’s the cottage as a retreat, a shelter and a space of solitude. He see’s his garden at Dungeness as a representation of growth as his health begins to deteriorate from AIDs related illnesses. 

Initially, Derek’s garden is formed accidentally as he uses a piece of driftwood to prop up a drooping dog rose. He then begins to see the objects differently as he collects them from the beach and begins to make each of them an ornamental, almost scuptural part of his garden. 

Jarman sees Dungeness as a result of both accidental happenings and purposeful design decisions and he creates his garden in the same way; purposely formalising the front of his garden, but letting the back of the garden grow haphazardly, letting nature be the designer. 

Towards the end of his life, Derek sees the garden as a more philosophical representation of life and death and the garden requires a new meaning for him. He sees ‘the plants struggling against the biting winds’ and this is ‘merged with Derek’s struggle with illness. As a juxtaposition to this he also sees how the flowers blossom, while he can no longer fight against his illness.  

2.) Redstart 1:2 Magnified View

Key Words:

  • Texture
  • Detail 
  • Warmth 
  • Shelter
  • Scale
  • Voids 

Methodology 

  1. Defining a Territory 
  2. Decision Making
  3. Perception of Voids and Crevices 
  4. Nest Construction 

How does the Redstart see Dungeness?

The Black Redstart is a Connoisseur of Ruins. He/she sees Dungeness as a a landscape filled with voids and crevices for which to explore. The obsolete structures left to decay offer sheltered voids and spaces to build their nests within. On inhabitation within these voids, the texture, materially and decayed forms are revealed from a magnified view. The once familiar objects become distorted at a larger scale and are seen from different perspectives. At only 14.5 cm in length, the redstart is small enough to inhabit places the no human eye can reach. The black redstart prefers to construct their nests at a minimum of 3 metres above ground level so that they aerate of reach from predators. The redstart views the landscape from within these tiny spaces, big enough for its nest, but not big enough for any other visitors or predators. 

The black redstart sees Dungeness as a sort of playground as it flies, hops and swoops between voids filled with ad-hoc detritus. With a trained eye the redstart searches the landscape for materials to build its nest. Similar to the process of creating an exquisite corpse drawing, the redstart adds materials to the existing structures in order to design their habitat. Soft, materials, for comfort and hard materials for strength, it is able to classify which material goes where. The redstart constructs their nest within the existing void using the surfaces to build onto and shelter against. 

3.) Garden 1:200 Worm’s Eye View 

Key Words

  • looking upwards
  • feeling insignificant in comparison 
  • feeling small
  • seeing growth 
  • relationship with the ground 

Methodology 

  1. Sparse vegetation
  2. Unexpected successes 
  3. Paradise Haunts Gardens
  4. Rubble Introduces new flowers 

The garden sees Dungeness from a ‘worms eye view’ with an ‘eye’ level close to the ground looking up at the plant life and sculptures surrounding it. From this perspective the concept of growth in emphasised and the garden begins to drawn upon a relationship with the ground. When nature is left to grow the garden without any help, the harsh weather conditions in Dungeness make this almost impossible. But with the help of Jarman and others like him, the unexpected successes of new plants and bulbs create a microcosm of paradise in Dungeness. The garden is haunted by paradise. When the flowers are no longer in bloom, the paradise remains in the form of ornaments of sculptures- the reminders of what was once there. Seeds scattered around the site prompt new growth from year to year- the garden is continually renewing itself. 

The garden sees rubble as a positive addition to the landscape, ‘the rubble and brick and broken tiles do introduce some flowers’. Mine craters left from the second world war are no longer seen as a symbol of destruction but are perceived to aid the  growth of the garden. ‘Mine craters are rich in plant life which shows that meddling with the landscape works’. The garden is a product of both mother nature and human nature’s meddling with the landscape. The remains of the garden are now seen as the ‘ornaments of time’. 

4.) Landscape 1:2000 Aerial View

Key Words

  • man-made additions to the landscape 
  • natural additions to the landscape
  • carpet of detritus 
  • new structures, new landforms 
  • nature
  • no boundaries 
  • dense, sparse 

Methodology

  1. Human Inhabitation 
  2. Structures form ad-hoc detritus 
  3. Detritus forms carpeted landscape- Encourages Plant Life
  4. Inhabitation, Detritus, Nature Instigates Growth 

The landscape sees Dungeness from up above. The adhoc-detritus decays to an unrecognisable state an forms a carpeted layer over the existing landscape in Dungeness. In habitation of the site causes man- made detritus to be left to decay, At this point man-made and natural merge into one another and it is not known where the boundary lies. Old fisherman’s netting, decaying timber, crumbling concrete and found objects lay haphazardly to create a newly formed carpeted landscape. The carpet is denser in the sites surrounding abandoned existing structures where the decaying material fall off onto the ground beside. The landscape in Dungeness in continuous, there is no fences of boundaries so ‘who can guess where is ends’. The landscape is continually being added to as nature makes the man- made structures her own. 

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