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American approach

By Ruth Slavid
This issue celebrates the new building for Greenwich University (see page 34) and the impact it should have on the education of landscape students. But even in their old, unsatisfactory accommodation, the students were scarcely short of imagination, as can be seen in this work by former MA student Aaron Carpenter.

Aaron, who now works for gardener and historian Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, called his final project ‘Revival of the Ornamental Canal’. It looked at finding a new life for the neglected canal in Wapping, east London.

Aaron proposed a treatment of the area that put a set of tools in the hands of local people to regenerate it as they wish. ‘I wanted to create an image that the community could respond to, but could build differently if they wanted to,’ he said.

The project was a way of responding to the claustrophobia that Aaron felt in London alongside the excitement of the city. He based his work on two unlikely- seeming models from American films. These were Patrick Bateman from American Psycho, chosen not for his sociopathic tendencies but for his obsession with detail, and Christopher McCandless, the subject of Into the Wild, for his love of nature (even though it eventually killed him). This is a notion of landscape as escape that is tougher and more challenging than the usual trope of rus in urbe. 

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