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Book Week Scotland

For Book Week Scotland we asked staff and students at Scotland’s Rural College to tell us about a book that they love. We start the week with a brilliant recommendation by Gerard O’Brien, Garden and Greenspace Design lecturer at SRUC Edinburgh.

Gerard O'Brien“The book I’ve chosen is Derek Jarman’s Garden by Derek Jarman with photographs by Howard Sooley.

It was as a young teenager in eighties Dublin that I became aware of Derek Jarman’s film making, mostly from watching music videos he created for The Smiths and others. He sadly died in 1994 of an AIDS related illness. I mention this illness only because his garden was a place that he formed in the last years of his life and was important for him as a place of refuge and a kind of heterotopia to confront nature and his own mortality as part of nature.

His garden was created in what seems like a barren landscape, but he cultivated, nurtured and shaped it to sculpt a poetic and artistic idiosyncratic haven and as he says himself ‘Paradise haunts gardens and it haunts mine‘. This paradise I admire very much and his philosophies influence me. The book is a gentle read with flashes of sadness and anger. For plant lovers there are many beautiful shots of those growing in the garden. Finally he also says  (which makes me smile)…’Lawns, it seems to me, are against nature, barren and often threadbare – the enemy of a good garden.” I like that provocation and wonder what my garden and greenspace students make of it….so I recommend if you like the sound of this you get the book from SRUC library!”

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