top of page

in the night garden


LET'S START WITH SOME WORDS ON PEG'S STORY....

For a modest entry fee, Georgian Dubliners could escape the noise and squalor of the streets and enjoy an evening of al fresco entertainment.

Pleasure gardens first became popular in London with Vauxhall opening in 1732. Other cities followed suit and by 1775 Dublin had two: The Rotunda and Ranelagh. The Gardens featured manicured walks, light refreshments, musical entertainment and darker corners for romantic trysts. A magical atmosphere was created by hundreds of flickering lamps.


The Rotunda Gardens opened in 1749. Located at the top of Sackville Street where bustling city gave way to countryside, they were the creation of Bartholomew Mosse. Mosse, newly trained as a man-midwife, had great ambitions to help the penniless mothers of Dublin. Three years earlier, he had opened a Lying-In Hospital (the first of its kind in the world). This hospital soon proved too small and Mosse bought a larger site. He commissioned his architect friend, Richard Cassels to design a building and engaged a professional gardener to plan and plant a Pleasure Garden. The hospital would provide care for the women, the entrance fees to the gardens would provide ongoing funding for training and staffing the hospital.



The Ranelagh Gardens opened in 1769. Set in the grounds of Willsbrook House, a mansion located in deep country-side between Donnybrook and Rathmines, these gardens were owned by William Hollister and were purely a commercial endeavour.



One of peculiarities of a Pleasure Garden was that it was open to all - lords, ladies, merchants, middling-sorts, soldiers, servants and even harlots. At times there were public masquerades where everyone turned up in fancy dress. Can you imagine the thrill of flirting with a dashing gentleman and, with cover of darkness and disguise, never knowing if he was a duke or a rogue?


In 1785 one such masquerade was held in the Rotunda. Peg decided to dress as Diana, the Goddess of Chastity.

for had I appeared in the character of Cleopatra, or any such, it surely could not be deemed masquerade; as to be in masquerade is undoubtedly to be in an assumed character; thus I sported that of the goddess of Chastity, and kept it up as well as the famed Lady Arabella D*—— of charitable memory, would have done amidst her own Magdalen.


This is typical Peg. Clever. Witty. Audacious.



SOME WORDS ON ARTISTIC PROCESS....

Below is work in progress for Peg on that evening at the Pleasure Garden. I'm continuing to explore the use of Dublin buildings as an anchor point for the series. I'm featuring buildings that are still around so people can visit them if they wish. Here, I show Lord Charlemont's house, now the Hugh Lane Gallery along with the Hospital. The gardens themselves have long been built over, though a small portion of them remains as the Garden of Remembrance.


I'm currently having a lot of fun with this style of illustration. I like the way the old engravings sit with vector treatment of the architecture. I like the playing with perspective and size. I feel the design gives a nod to the look of eighteenth century prints. But mainly I love the story-telling aspect. By situating the characters within a physical setting I am able to move them around like a theatre director or a child playing with a doll's house.


The one thing I am unsure of is that this style may be a little too playful. It may err on the side of childish. Peg's story is not a happy ever after tale. This direction may lack the gravitas her story requires.



SYNCHRONICITY...

The other day I was having coffee with a friend. She was telling me of her current work around Carl Jung and archetypes. She began talking of greek goddesses and I felt a prickling at the back of my neck and fizzing in my heart. I had been wondering how I could bring female archetypes into my telling of Peg's story but temporarily dissmissed the idea because I didn't know anything about the subject and I felt I had enough to be getting on with. My friend started by telling me of Artemis, otherwise known as Diana, Goddess of the Hunt and Chastity........ AKA Ms. Peg Plunkett in 1775.


Artemis, my friend explained, was a Virgin Goddess. When Artemis was a young girl, her father, Zeus, loved her so much that he granted her a number of wishes. Top of her list was the wish never to marry. Married women were subservient to their husbands. Artemis’ 'virginity' is actually a symbol of her power and independence. It signifies her role as mistress of her own destiny.


Chastity in this instance is not a lack of sex, but a lack of male dominance.


Below is work in progress for Peg on that evening at the Pleasure Garden. I'm continuing to explore the use of Dublin buildings as an anchor point for the series. I'm featuring buildings that are still around so people can visit them . Here, I show Lord Charlemont's house, now them


What I excited me also about this story was how it reveres singledom over coupledom. Even today the single woman can bee seen as someone to be pitied. But why?


Blooming good question. Addressing this issue may give my playful prints some philosophical grounding, allowing common and garden universal themes to blossom.


Oh, so, so Peg.Peg.eg.g..enough of gardening metaphors. I'm off to check out Mount Olympus.weinhagehproifesslionale garde nertplanh and eplant a Pleasure Garden. The hospital would provide care for the women, wthe entrance fees to the gardens would provide ongoing funding for training and staffing the hospital. engaged a professional gardener to plan and plant a Pleasure Garden. The hospital would provide care for the women, withe entrance fees to the gardens would provide ongoing funding for training and staeengaged a professional gardener to plan and plant a Pleasure Garden. The hospital would provide care for the women, while the entrance fees to the gardens would provide ongoing funding for training and staffing the hospital. ital. tal. al. pital. ital. tal. al. al.









105 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page