- Anita Bell
Monet's Garden, Giverny in France
Updated: Jul 28, 2021
Many years ago I visited Monet's Garden at Giverny. Arriving early in the morning, it was already busy.
Walking around the garden I saw the lily pond, the bridge, the boat and the shutters on the house, all with the specific green colour paint and beautiful vistas everywhere.
Inside the house was just as bright. Citron yellow paint in the kitchen and a blue room with Japanese woodblock prints on the wall.
The garden had formal beds at the front with rows of irises and roses which surprised me, in other areas there was a riot of plants.
There is a very definite Japanese influence in the garden with the reflections of the trees in the water, the pond and the bridge.
Japanese gardens were influenced by the natural landscape and started out as NIWA, small clearings in the forest that formed shrines.
There are many types of Japanese gardens and they follow particular rules.
The two that seemed most relevant to me were Shakkei meaning borrowed view, using the scenery beyond the garden and ikedori meaning (capturing alive). I wrote at the time:-
'The maturity of the garden, with its abundant greenery and riot of plants is captured alive in the stillness of the lily pond.The reflective qualities of the water and the underlying Japanese influence left an impression of tangible colour and vivid views.'
Coming back with a head full of colour my work changed from the soft natural pigment palette of the fresco to bright almost fluorescent papers and jewel like threads. Hand dyeing and painting papers, using the itajime shibori techniques of folding and clamping paper or letting the colours run together to create their own patterns, a whole new series of work started.
Each work is a blaze of colour captured alive or a misty borrowed view.