Thalia Allington-Wood (UCL) - 2014-15 Students

Exploring the Bosco: Bomarzo and beyond in sixteenth-century Italy

The ‘Sacro Bosco’ at Bomarzo, commissioned by Prince Orsini in 1547, is an unusual, complex sixteenth‐century outdoor space, proliferated with sculptures of marvellous creatures, roughly carved and discovered by winding paths. Very unlike the typical ordered, geometric gardens of the time ‐ Villa d’Este for example.This project will consider the site as a space deeply engaged with concerns of its time, where issues of death, nature, vision and self‐fashioning are played out. Considered in relation to comparable outdoor sculptures from the period, such as ‘January’ in Villa di Castello and Bologna’s ‘Appennino’ in Villa Medici, Pratolino, as well as in light of contemporary literature, including Ariosto’s ‘Orlando Furioso’ and Colonna’s ‘Hypnerotomachia Poliphili’, the project will question early modern notions of vision, experience, haptic spaces and emotion are potentially suggested by the sculptures and structures within the wooded garden. This thesis will look into how the sculptures open up questions regarding ambivalence and at once engage with issues of the imagination and the fictive. As well as question what the legacy of Bomarzo can teach us about public space and our consumption of cultural heritage.

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