If we are at all interested in concepts, we must develop the ability to move seamlessly back and forth between the abstract and the physical, in the manner of rotating a circular control smoothly around a dial, first clockwise and then anti-clockwise. Rather than being two discreet states, these are merely locations on a spectrum that intersects with other spectra at every point on its surface.
I have given notice in previous posts of my intention to start with themes that lie at the conceptual end of the spectrum and gradually move towards the concrete pole. As with any worthwhile journey, the direction of travel will not be linear but will see the path double back on itself and meander at will, becoming convoluted in places.
You must surely be wondering whether this blog is really about knot gardens at all, or is merely a vehicle for expressing some personal beliefs and presenting my own peculiar view of the world. After all, I have spent the last year, since the blog’s inception, dealing with general themes that do not appear to be closely related to knot gardens.
I feel now that the time has come to start an exploration of real, extant knot gardens. Only by doing this will I become equipped to eventually design and build The Knot Garden in its corporeal form. I expect the completion of that assignment, still several years away from starting, to mark the conclusion of this project.
Precisely why is it important for me to visit existing knot gardens? Firstly, so that I can study their geometry. In a wider sense, I wish to understand the patterns used in their construction. It will be interesting too to learn something of those who commissioned them and those who built them and to discover the gardens’ historical context. Most of all, I wish to gain insights into the belief systems of the people associated with them.
Through a piece of good fortune I have discovered, after scanning through hundreds of images of knot gardens on the Internet, that the one that caught my attention more than any other sits just across the river from where I work – a mere fifteen minutes on foot.
Having done some brief research on St Mary-at-Lambeth, I am drawn both to the garden’s setting – which features a churchyard and a wild garden – and its history. For the site contains monuments to both the Tradescant family, of botanical fame, and Admiral William Bligh of The Bounty, who once found himself on the receiving end of a famous mutiny. Here must surely lie a rich vein of belief-yielding ore.
The Knot Garden believes that balance must be maintained between the theoretical domain of ideas and the tangible world of material entities. My forthcoming visit to The Garden Museum represents the first significant step towards creating the required tension. I very much look forward to entering for the first time the real world of knot gardens.