A new collaborative project called Landscaped Estates of the 1800s: Designs on the Future will involve a temporary ‘twinning’ of a project based on Sheringham Park, Norfolk, with The Invisible College’s focus the Kilmahew Estate in Cardross, Scotland.
The University of Nottingham and The National Trust of England have been running a similar project to The Invisible College (partnership with NVA and Glasgow & Edinburgh Universities) that researches environmental change using Sheringham Park as its site. Both research teams have been independently researching the geography and history of estates created as designed landscapes during the 1800s.
At Sheringham, they have been collecting on-going estate histories of environmental change and the landscape’s changing scenography which has been shared in a public exhibition. At Kilmahew, a range of site-specific participatory events have enabled the local community and the academic team to connect environmental change in the past with projected plans for the near-future of the abandoned estate.
The two projects have come together to identify common and contrasting areas of the work already done at both sites. The University-led research teams will collaborate, critically reflect and compare their findings.
The Kilmahew and Sheringham estates have much in common. They are both relatively small, they raise issues of species management, control and curation, in relation to Rhododendrons for example. Both sites contain ‘ghost’ designs, memory traces, elements of absence and voided landscape and have vestiges of original parkland design which are hidden, exposed, or potentially recoverable.
There are also some crucial differences between the sites and projects, which will make comparisons interesting. Ironically, Sheringham was designed with an understanding that it would eventually be ruined, and yet has been well preserved; Kilmahew was never intended for ruination, but ruination has become its signature feature.