Gareth Williams Presented a Royal Oak Foundation Sponsored Lecture: House and Hound: Dogs in the English Country House
Oehme, van Sweden Principal Eric D. Groft attended this compelling April 16 lecture with client and friend Barbara Slifka. Eric and Barbara met Gareth during a tour of the Great Country Homes of Shropshire sponsored by the American Museum in Britain September 2014.
Gareth Williams was riveting as he described the relationship and importance of the canine world to this era of English history and culture. Integral to this lifestyle were not only dogs but the equally important landscape and gardens.
Although many people focus on the humans within English portraits, it is the four-legged occupants of these stately pieces that are considered de rigueur members of the countryside retreats.
From gaunt greyhounds – shown in early English tapestries – to pampered pooches – whose beds have the same Colefax & Fowler chintz as their mistresses’ sofas – the dogs of country estates command a place in history themselves.
Depictions of hunting dogs and family pets can be found everywhere within English country homes – sculptures, textiles, tapestries, plasterwork, and even on tableware or porcelain. Canine accoutrements include wrought silver and gold collars, dog bowls and architect-designed kennels.
Bereft pet owners also would immortalize their pets’ passing with modest gravestones in pet cemeteries or sculpted garden monuments.
Be they the dogs of country squires, members of the grand estates’ hunting packs or dogs from the royal households, the illustrated lecture of Gareth Williams – award-winning curator at the Weston Park Foundation – discussed the cultural influence and the artistic legacy of all English country house dogs.
The lecture, House and Hound: Dogs in the English Country House, was sponsored by the Royal Oak Foundation, and was attended by OvS Principal Eric Groft, who accompanied Barbara Slifka to Mr. Williams’ lecture.
Prior to joining Weston Park in 2006, Mr. Williams held a curatorial position at Nostell Priory, a National Trust property in Yorkshire. Mr. Williams undertakes consultancy work at other private historic houses, including Blenheim Palace and the aforementioned Weston Park, for which he received an Excellence in Tourism Award for Outstanding Customer Care.
Every year landscape architects unite for the month of April to partake in National Landscape Architecture Month – a month long celebration of landscape architecture and designed spaces around the country.
Yet this year the National becomes World, as the American Society of Landscape Architects pushes to connect the world with design. World Landscape Architecture Month celebrates the profession of landscape architecture and its designs, and aims to share it with landscape architects around the globe.
Each of ASLA’s 49 chapters is working virtually with a sister organization or firm in a foreign country that is also dedicated to landscape architecture – bolstering the sharing of ideas, designs and innovations, while reaching an expansive international audience.
Further growing awareness of the international presence of landscape architecture, ASLA offers access to a wallet-sized card – “Designed by a Landscape Architect” – so that they can take pictures of designed spaces and share them internationally via social media.
For more information, check out “World Landscape Architecture Month” on facebook, or search #WLAM2015 when searching images on Twitter or Instagram.