Architecture of Landscape


Alison Hand and Isabel Young



February 2017


A dystopian view of hope.

Dysfunctional structures on a blighted utopian dream.


Scaffolding on a vast desolate horizon; measureless assemblages attached to no building. Hybrid constructions and astroturf floating across a landscape of surfaces.


Ladders to the moon; steps ascending towards an indeterminate promise of destiny. A reach for decompression of an acute obstructive obstacle.


The scale of eccentric grandeur in Architecture of Landscape is palpable, like a drumming heartbeat pounding the head. The work of Alison Hand and Isabel Young at ARTHOUSE1 presents, not the usual dystopian views of a decaying and decadent society, but an unpredictable future of an incomplete architectural masterplan. This is a distorted vision of dreams leading to a fantasy of desires and improbable aspirations.


These are the gardens built before the architecture they are made for has been conceived, a surreal space of endless layers. This is when fantasy and time merge, flaking off from time’s assumed arrow, constructing on an imaginary threshold something that is incomprehensible, unusable, and absurd in its monumental honour of the dream.


Hand’s “work is concerned with the representation of landscape, and narratives of improvement. Regeneration in particular throws up new, peripheral kinds of landscapes which articulate a desire to develop, improve, to transform. Hand searches for the gaps between the promise and the reality, where the site is characterised by fantasy, displacement, and absurd juxtaposition. Signifiers from disparate genres are flung together, perspectives are condensed and elongated, and previous layers rise up to confront new layers.”


In Young’s work, “architecture and landscape architecture are addressed as a liminal experience of space where boundary itself becomes the central theme. Imagery pauses around doorways, entrances and openings marking the threshold as the most powerful point of friction in architecture.... Ladders, steps and bridges feature as leitmotifs inferring the occupation of space. These entities physically and metaphorically connect one space to another making the inaccessible accessible. Suspended in darkness are planets, moons and suns that inhabit the paintings as distant landscapes with the potential for colonisation.”


Together, these works witness the limits of expectation; the limits of reason; the limits of what potential can produce. Architecture of Landscape is itself a boundary on an unbounded entitlement to improve.


Text by Jane Boyer


Artists weblinks:      Alison Hand     Isabel Young

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