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The Artist Gardener: Bohemian Communities, Gardens and Culture

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In the modern era the ‘artist-gardener’ came of age, and painters, photographers, writers and sculptors became gardeners.

This course will discuss a broad stylistic approach by artists and focus on the artist’s love of gardens and flowers which generated new opportunities to experiment with colour, themes and emotions, as the garden emerged as a major subject in modern art and culture.

These gardens would fulfil a symbolic function and provide a commentary on the aesthetic and social attitudes of the modern era; and we will focus on the gardens they create and paint, or write about.

Gardens that are well known as well as many private gardens will be discussed, and we will look at a number of examples throughout Great Britain, Europe and America

Learning and teaching

The module will be taught through ten two-hour sessions online, incorporating lectures, seminars and workshops. These sessions will consist of a one-hour lecture followed by class discussion and group work on specific topics relating to the module.

The discussion and group work will enable students to think critically and to contribute to the debates and topics presented during the lectures. The discussion-led sessions and the lectures will be supplemented by resources available to students via Learning Central.

Syllabus content:

  • Artist-Gardeners and their stylistic approaches, including:
    • Painters
    • Photographers
    • Writers
    • Sculptors
  • Artist-Gardens as a commentary on social attitudes
  • Examples of artist-gardens in public and private settings in Britain, Europe and America

Coursework and assessment

To award credits we need to have evidence of the knowledge and skills you have gained or improved.

Some of this has to be in a form that can be shown to external examiners so that we can be absolutely sure that standards are met across all courses and subjects. The most important element of assessment is that it should enhance your learning.

Our methods are designed to increase your confidence and we try very hard to devise ways of assessing you that are enjoyable and suitable for adults with busy lives.

Reading suggestions

  • Jackie Bennett, The Writer's Garden: How Gardens Inspired our Best-loved Authors (London: Frances Lincoln, 2014)
  • Julia Crawford, Mien Ruys: The Mother of Modernist Gardens (London: Lund Humphries, 2023)
  • Stephen Parker, England's Gardens: A Modern History (London: Dorling Kindersley, 2023)
  • Gwynneth Reynolds and Diana Grace, Benton End Remembered: Cedric Morris, Arthur Lett-Haines and the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing (London: Unicorn, 2017)
  • Sue Snell, The Garden at Charleston: A Bloomsbury Garden through the Seasons (London: Frances Lincoln, 2010)
  • Sir Roy Strong, The Artist and the Garden (New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 2005)

Library and computing facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University’s library and computing facilities. Find out more about using these facilities.


Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and dyslexia screening.