Georgian garden to be revealed at the British Library tomorrow ahead of major exhibition opening

To celebrate the British Library’s major new exhibition opening this week, Georgians Revealed: Life, Style and the Making of Modern Britain, the Library and Cityscapes will tomorrow unveil a Georgian garden installation on the Library’s piazza designed by landscape architect and historian Todd Longstaffe-Gowan and funded by The Sackler Trust.

The making of the Georgeobelisk

The making of the Georgeobelisk

Alongside such artworks as Eduardo Paolozzi’s ‘Newton’ and Antony Gormley’s ‘Planets’, the installation titled 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 6 metre high structure is an ephemeral tribute to the four King Georges as we approach the 300th anniversary of the beginning of the Georgian period and even 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 North Yorkshire, the Georgeobelisk represents a class of temporary constructions that were very popular in eighteenth-century Britain. Throughout the Georgian era similar temporary 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 will show rarely seen material illustrating the beginnings of the British 'obsession' with gardens and garden design.’

The Georgeobelisk is available from Wednesday 6 November until March 2014 and is free. Georgians Revealed opens Friday 8 November.

Tweet your pictures of the garden to @BritishLibrary using #GeorgianGarden.

Notes to Editors:

This project has been made possible by The Sackler Trust.

Related events

In an English Country Garden

Fri 29 Nov 2013, 18.30-20.00, £7.50 / £5 concessions

The Georgian era heralded the replacement of the formal garden with the English Landscape movement for the landed gentry. Its idealized view of nature, championed by Capability Brown, brought a looser more minimalist garden design. But the period also saw the creation of the Pleasure Garden and temporary 'pop-up' gardens, which combined the aesthetic of nature with public entertainment and spectacle. In this conversation garden historians and specialists explore these ephemeral Georgian gardens, and their continuing impact, in the various guises of temporary gardens today, which shape our views of outside space.

Chair Christopher Woodward, with Todd Longstaffe-Gowan and Tony Heywood, explores the notion of ephemeral Georgian gardens and their continuing impact in the various guises of temporary gardens today which have helped shape our views of outside space.


Georgians Revealed: Life, Style and the Making of Modern Britain runs from 8 November 2013 to 11 March 2014.

www.bl.uk/georgians-revealed / #BLGeorgians

Prices: Gift Aid £10, Standard Adult £9, Over 60s £7, Other concessions £5, Under 18s Free, Friends of the British Library Free

All galleries are accessible by wheelchair. Information can be requested from Visitor Services staff on: T +44 (0)20 7412 7332.

Todd Longstaffe-Gowan

Gardener and historian Todd Longstaffe-Gowan takes on a range of projects in Britain and abroad, many with a conservation slant. He is Gardens Adviser to Historic Royal Palaces, and President of the London Parks and Gardens Trust. His work reflects his interest in the dramatic and sculptural potential of landscape, and is imbued with whimsical, historical eclecticism. www.tlg-landscape.co.uk/

Cityscapes is a London based garden festival. which aims to bring a creative new approach to the way urban parks and gardens are designed, through the creation of temporary and permanent gardens, working with garden and landscape designers and cultural organisations. Cityscapes was founded by Darryl Moore and Adolfo Harrison of Moore Harrison Land Design. www.cityscapes.org.uk. @cityscapesUK

For more information contact:


The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - www.bl.uk - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.  



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