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The Gardener Digs in Another Time

“Given the recent launch of the Art Garden, and the gallery’s rejuvenated relationship with nature, this exhibition invites visitors to reassess the role gardens play; do they function merely as individual escapism - portraying a better world through beauty - or can they in some way motivate political thought or action?”

The Gardener Digs in Another Time

Gardens can be places of transformation and liberation. This display reflects upon the use of the garden in visual culture as a vehicle for utopian thought and emblem for an ideal society.

As a place where physical and aesthetic labour converge - and where pleasure and profit are found in equal measure - the garden has held great symbolic weight within the rhetoric of socialism since the late 19th century. In the work of William Morris and Walter Crane the enclosed garden is used repeatedly, assisting the creation of a rich visual language in support of their ardent socialist agenda. Many modern and contemporary artists have since been drawn to the subject of the garden, providing them with conceptual means to express their political ideologies in opposition of capitalist pursuits, and to envision a utopian world.

With the launch of our Art Garden and the Whitworth’s new relationship with its park, this exhibition invites visitors to reflect upon the role of the garden in articulating hope.

View the artworks in our collection

23 June – 9 October 2016


Curated by Samantha Manton with support from the Contemporary Art Society Starting Point Fellowship


Read the accompanying essay by Sam Manton - The Gardener Digs in Another Time

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