Allan Pollok-Morris Gets Close


Upon hearing that Scotland had voted a garden its most important work of art, photographer Allan Pollok-Morris set off on a five-year journey to document landscape art in all forms, says the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., site of a new exhibition of his large-scale photos. Along with the exhibition, there’s his book, Close: Landscape Design and Land Art in Scotland, which presents the work of more than 30 landscape architects, designers, and land artists, including Andy Goldsworthy, Arabella Lennox-Boyd, Charles Jencks, and Anish Kapoor. Pollok-Morris told The Washington Post he titled the book “Close” because that’s the old Scottish word for landscape, a term “that is so inspirational, ‘it’s as if the heavens are closer to Earth.'”  

Instead of pretty flowers arranged in traditional gardens, there are natural grasses, complex mixes of plants, and bold landforms, which demonstrate how powerfully humans can shape even their pleasure landscapes. In selecting the 270 photos for his book, Pollock-Morris told us he wanted to capture the intense relationship between the forms and viewer. “I put an emphasis on garden views which help explore the relationship between the internal and external landscape, sometimes selecting photographs that were on the periphery of a garden over the more classic central views.” He also believes how a landscape is designed may end up revealing more about the designer than the surrounding nature itself. “The way the creator of a space is revealed indirectly in the place they make can be a fascinating indicator of their influences.”

In one example, a garden at Cambo House, a country estate in Fife (immediately below), gardener Elliott Forsyth has created a 21st-century take on the Scottish garden, says The Washington Post. “We see a foreground of echinops veiling bands of verbena, grasses, plume poppies, buddleias and what look like red blanket flowers.”


For the photographer, learning about all variations of land art has led to a broader inquiry into the nature of constructed landscapes. Pollok-Moris says: “the project has probably raised more questions than it has answered. A few questions in particular relate to how a person appreciates natural landscapes and man-made spaces differently. What is the role of landscape architecture in all of this?” 


The U.S. Botanic Garden’s free exhibit of Pollok-Morris’ photos runs from January 22 through June 5. Learn more about how to attend. See a slideshow of his photos.

Also, check out Pollok-Morris’ new book.

Image credits: (1) ‘Cells of Life’ at Jupiter Artland by Charles Jencks, (2) Cambo House garden by Elliott Forsyth and Catherine Erskine, (3)  Corrour Lodge by Jinny Blom and Antony Gormley / Allan Pollok-Morris

One thought on “Allan Pollok-Morris Gets Close

  1. John 03/02/2011 / 1:00 pm

    in order to share an article from the DIRT I need to retype a piece of advertising ?????…………as a ASLA member I am insulted…………….. John Pellitier

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