Throughout September, artist Miranda Creswell and I embarked on an artistic and archaeological experiment to bring together a garden, a hospital and a landscape view, based at Horatio’s Garden and the Salisbury Hospital Spinal Unit (http://www.horatiosgarden.org.uk). My role in this has been to explore and try to bring to life the past of this landscape. The obvious starting point was to look at the landmarks and visible markers of the past, then using these as a route into imagined landscapes and the past that we cannot see. This was made possible in part by my own research, reading books and searching databases, but mostly by the conversations I have had while in Horatio’s Garden and from the generosity of patients, staff, volunteers and visitors in sharing their questions, stories, the views from their windows and little nuggets of information.
As luck would have it the view from the garden is rich in history and archaeology, including a house built by Pugin (St Marie’s Grange, Alderbury), a royal palace at Clarendon, and an 11th-century Augustinian Priory, as well as my more usual fare of Bronze Age barrows, Anglo-Saxon graves, Roman farmsteads and prehistoric field systems. So, over the past month I have been putting together a view board that brought together both photographs from my walks and field trips and the thoughts, observations and musings of all the people who have joined me wholeheartedly in this venture. This culminated on Sunday with an exhibition of art and photography and a set of talks by Miranda and me, but also, and most importantly, by the patients and volunteers in Horatio’s Garden.
Overall, I feel the time I have spent at Horatio’s Garden has been quite remarkable. As well as learning about an archaeological landscape that was new to me, I have met some extraordinary people, made some lovely friends and realised the value of sharing time and conversations.
My time at Horatio’s Garden was made possible by the English Landscapes and Identities Project. For more on this project and on Miranda’s art, please see: