There cannot be many things that have enough presence that you could simply drop into the 17th Century landscape of the Old Royal Navel College at Greenwich university without being dwarfed by the architecture of Wren.
When turning up one Monday morning for lectures it occurred to me that something was different to the previous weeks, as the resin bonded gravel roads had been replaced with granite chips and ash. On passing the Queen Anne building you were confronted with a massive elephant with a castle tower on its back. I had seen this image somewhere before but could not recall where. As the view came into site the rest of the structure came into view. That’s when I recalled where I had seen the elephant. It was the Elephant of the Bastille.
It didn’t look out of place. It looked comfortable, not on a human scale but within Wren’s landscape. Although only timber and resin, it seemed to absorb the weight of the surrounding buildings; a lesson in colour and scale. Although the thought that a sculpture instigated by Napoleon should appear in the grounds of the Navel Hospital was slightly troubling.
They say there’s nothing new any more… perhaps so. A return visit to Rousham House Garden was needed after an all to quick visit with Robert Holden of Greenwich University some time back. Rousham Gardens were redesigned by William Kent in the 1730s in the Picturesque style. They are a delight.