As part of our continuing work on the HistEvents system, users are temporarily not receiving emails. Please just send details of your event to and we will list it for you.

The Garden at War: Deception, Craft and Reason

July 8, 2017
Stowe House

Stowe House
Stowe MK18 5EH
United Kingdom

Topic areas

Talks at this conference

Add a talk


Bringing together world-leading academics, art-historians, and contemporary artists, The Courtauld Institute of Art and Aganippe Arts present a day-long symposium held at Stowe House to open the exhibition The Garden at War. The collaborative event aims to provide a forum for exploring issues and ideas raised by the exhibition on the development and relevance of Stowe and its history of neoclassicism. The primary strand of inquiry which informs the symposium concerns the use of the gardens at Stowe as a collaborative art-form. Looking at Stowe in this manner it is possible to read its design through a number of different frameworks; from the influence of the classical world, to the work of conceptual artists like Ian Hamilton Finlay, to the French landscape paintings of Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain.

The symposium inaugurates a new initiative that puts the significance of art-history into context and opens up its accessibility to a wider audience through public facing dialogue. It also highlights a newly published collection of essays presented in the exhibition catalogue, available for a limited reduced price for symposium attendees to pre-order.

The idea of the garden, as something more than a pleasant retreat, inevitably evokes the eighteenth-century gardens of Stowe in Buckinghamshire. This was a time of classical revival, when the prevailing cultural attitude was to reform the world based on venerated classical ideals. The enlightenment provided a cultural environment which called for a form of art suited to this ‘Age of Reason’. The proponents of such a movement saw in the potential of the garden a symbolic embodiment of civilisation and of man’s relationship to nature. The garden suggested a lost Arcadia, a stage for philosophical thought, and just as irrationality may be conquered and turned to logical reasoning so too the wild forces of nature may be brought into quite alignment. 

This is the use of the garden as metaphor. In its principles of balance and symmetry the neoclassical gardens of Stowe create a visual equivalent of coherent thought. Stowe isn’t a garden of flowers or shrubs; it’s a garden of ideas.

This symposium aims to consider the gardens at Stowe as a site of conflict between order and disorder by examining a range of architectural, poetic, and artistic production. It brings together new explorations from leading experts on the fundamental nature of artistic collaboration to the production of a garden design. In doing so we may reflect that all artistic production exists within an intricate and complex web of relations and influences; both contemporary, historical, and experiential. In this way the garden can be read as a reflection of the society from which it is born and that in which it continues to exist.

Aganippe Arts has organised this symposium alongside the University of Edinburgh’s conference on the 13/14 July 2017, ‘Ian Hamilton Finlay; Little Fields, Long Horizons’.

Ticket prices Symposium pass £16.50

Access to the full day of talks including the evening panel discussion. This ticket allows access to Stowe House and the exhibition, including two free tours of Stowe House and Gardens which will be led by members of the Stowe House Preservation Trust. Catering for tea, coffee, and lunch will be available courtesy of Stowe House. 

+ exhibition catalogue £5 (optional)

Access to the full day of talks including the evening panel discussion as available with the standard ‘Symposium pass’ entrance. This ticket allows access to Stowe House and the exhibition, plus a copy of the exhibition catalogue retailing at  £10.00. (Catalogue will be provided to holders of this tickets upon arrival at Stowe House on 8th July)

This can be added to your ticket at the checkout on Eventbrite.

+ Lunch £5.00 (optional)

Lunch and refreshments will be provided by Stowe House. Buy in advance or pay on the day. All dietary requirements will be catered for.

This can be added to your ticket at the checkout on Eventbrite.


10:30 – 11:00          Optional Tours of Stowe House

11:00 – 11:30                Registration and tea/coffee

Session 1

11:30 – 12:00                Welcome and opening by conference chair

12:00 – 12:30                James Cahill

12:30 – 13:00                Dr. Joy Sleeman

13:00 – 14:00             Lunch Break
(available from Stowe House)

13:30 – 14:00          Optional Tours of Stowe Gardens

Session 2

14:00 – 14:45                Joseph Black

14:45 – 15:30                Patrick Eyres

15:30 – 16:00               Prof. Stephen Bann

16:00 – 17:30               Break

17:30 – 18:00            Panel Discussion
Joseph Black and Antoine Espinasseau in conversation

18:00                            Closing by conference chair


Stephen Bann
Emeritus Professor of History of Art at the University of Bristol. Published multiple writings on the work of Ian Hamilton Finlay. Contributor to The Garden at War publication.
Abstract; ‘Gardens Great and Small: Finlay and Shenstone’

Joseph Black
Contemporary artist and Senior Curator of The Garden at War programme

James Cahill
James Cahill is a writer and critic. He has recently embarked on a PhD at Cambridge University focusing on the impact of classical mythology on contemporary art.

Antoine Espinasseau
Contemporary French artist and architect exhibiting work at the The Garden at War exhibition

Patrick Eyres
Director of the New Arcadian Press. Published multiple writings on neo-classicism, garden and landscape design, and the work of Ian Hamilton Finlay
Abstract; ‘Neoclassicism on Active Service; 18th century gardens and imperial warfare in the work of Ian Hamilton Finlay.’

Joy Sleeman
Reader in Art History and Theory and Faculty Graduate Tutor at the Slade School of Fine Art. Writer on the work of Ian Hamilton Finlay, land-art, and contributor to The Garden at War publication

Supporting material

Add supporting material (slides, programs, etc.)




July 4, 2017, 9:00am BST

External Site

Who is attending?

No one has said they will attend yet.

Will you attend this event?

Let us know so we can notify you of any change of plan.

This event has been submitted and is maintained by:

You should login and contact this user if you believe the information on this page needs updating.

If you judge that this event entry is inappropriate, please login and report it.