Thursday, August 09, 2007

Gardens in Art: 2 bookshops and 1001 Gardens

After visiting the Impressionists by the Sea exhibition, I visited two of the best book shops in London for art. Hatchards and the Piccadilly flagship branch of Waterstones are both located in the south side of Piccadilly between the Royal Academy and Piccadilly Circus (Waterstones is in the old Simpsons on the Strand building and has five stories). Both have very extensive and well stocked art sections.

Hatchards is much more of a bookshop to visit and to contact if you have difficulty finding a book. It does have a website and a catalogue of new publications it carries and wishes to highlight but it does not have a comprehensive ordering section. For example, this is the art and architecture page from its spring/summer catalogue. The catalogue bears no relation to the vast and extensive range of books that it carries - many of which I've never seen anywhere else in book shops which only stock the most popular. It's very much a shop for those with specialist interests.

The flagship branch of Waterstones is very impressive - one can imagine bookworms spending a holiday there. The art section is on the 5th floor and is reached by lift. Like Hatchards, it stocks books you simply won't see in more popular bookshops or even in other large branches of Waterstones. What's impressive is that you don't just see one copy of a rarely seen book!

The Waterstones website is more geared up to online sales and as you can see if you click this link to the art and photography section it has several categories. Click again and you'll see how each of these in turn has several sub-categories. It then highlights best sellers, 'coming soon' and new releases. Click again and you get down to further sub-categories. At which point, for example, we get to all the books for drawing in pastel and crayon.

I refuse to confess to how many books I bought altogether but will admit to being a bookaholic - so much so I have to put a strict limit on my visits to bookshops. The big mistake was having "he who must not be bored while I sketch" with me to act as an extra pair of hands for carrying them all home! Let's just say I'm now fully equipped for a new project which for next year!

Gardens in Art

My main reason for visiting was to try and find some more information about painters who painted gardens. I came away with two excellent books which I've had my nose in ever since. The first is below and the second (The Painters's Garden) will be posted later today after I've sorted out getting works to an exhibition and worked out where on earth I can find an online reference for the second book!

1001 Gardens You Must See Before You Die brilliant! You could plan whole holidays visiting gardens using this book as it not only covers all the conventional places which get written about for those of us living in Europe and North America but also identifies all the really great gardens in places like Asia, Central and South America, Australasia and on Islands.

I bought the paperback copy but I see from Amazon that it also published in hardback. If this is likely to be a book which will interest you, you might want to think seriously about the hardback as it's very, very thick. Most gardens have a page and a picture. Less significant ones get a column and the more significant get more pictures. The photographs of the gardens are really excellent and the colour reproduction is also very good - I was salivating and planning trips to the Far East to visit all the ones in China and Japan in no time at all. Even if you can't travel, this is the sort of book which shows you how to compose a picture to make a garden look attractive.

The Editor is Rae Spencer-Jones and the preface is by Alan Titchmarsh - who like me is very enthusiastic about the book and the inspiration that the gardens it includes can provide. He also indicates that like me he is marking it up in terms of ones which need to go on the "must visit" list.

Amazon provides the following book details and has a 'look-inside' facility operating on this book.
  • Paperback: 960 pages
  • Publisher: Cassell Illustrated (12 April 2007)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 1844034984
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844034987
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 16.2 x 6 cm