Leading landscape architect Kim Wilkie is revered for his unusual vision and his acute grasp of how people have moulded their environment over the centuries. This updated version of his classic book, Led by the Land, has been expanded to include fresh thoughts on farming and settlement and new projects, both huge and intimate, from the designs for new cities in Oman and England to the Swansea Maggie’s Centre, and from plans for London’s Natural History Museum grounds to the sculptural setting of a furniture factory in Leamington Spa.
Wilkie has taken his genius to many parts of the world – including the United States, Chile, Russia, Transylvania, Italy, the Middle East, the very edge of the Arctic Circle, as well as the British Isles – but to each undertaking he brings the same approach of reverence for the land and the creatures that inhabit it. He does not impose his inspiration on it but interacts with it. He allows the land to lead him.
The carelessness and profligacy with which we generally treat our planet has degraded and despoiled much of it. It is reassuring to know there are people like Kim Wilkie: he cherishes the land, cooperates with it and seeks sustainable ways of regenerating it through his imaginative treatments. He agrees with Alexander Pope, the poet who inspired the English Landscape Movement, that ‘the Beauties [should] not [be] forced into [a place], but resulting from it’.
Wilkie holds that ‘landscape architecture is not art, though it should be artful’ but it is hard to see his magnificent Orpheus pool at Boughton House or his folds and zigzags of land at The Holt in Hampshire or his quilted wet meadows at Shawford and not to think of gigantic works of abstract art.
Led by the Land ruminates on our species’ place in the environment, the way past masters have fashioned it and the hopes for our future fruitful connections. With some 200 photographs and drawings, including many plans and specially commissioned aerial photography of several major works, this book offers not only a rich account of an unusual talent, but also an optimistic vision for our future.
£35 • US $50 • Can. $67