I was in Wivenhoe Park again this morning, drawing. I have been invited by Art Exchange at the University of Essex to do a residency over the summer looking at Constable’s ‘Wivenhoe Park’ and at the contemporary park landscape.
It is difficult to feel much of Constable in this landscape now. A few miles away at Flatford he still feels very much present, the view of Willy Lott’s house little changed since the 1816 sketch in Ipswich Museum.
But Wivenhoe Park now does not have the open character of the early 19th century park painted by Constable. In the last few decades stands of saplings have been allowed to populate the margins of the lakes and several eucalyptus planted in the late 1800‘s are now reaching a dense maturity. It feels as if you are inside (or beneath) the landscape rather than looking proprietorially across it.
And then there is the way Constable has manipulated scale making the park feel grander than its actual modest size…