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Preview | Tracing Narratives: Indian Landscape Design

LiveMint logoLiveMint 12-05-2017 Udita Jhunjhunwala

Landscape architects don’t just design gardens. They also consider fragile ecosystems and sustainability, natural-resource management and urban development, and design green spaces, parks and ponds. The travelling exhibition, Tracing Narratives: Indian Landscape Design, an initiative of the Landscape Environment Advancement Foundation (LEAF), Ahmedabad (which focuses on research in landscape design and environmental planning), makes a stop in Mumbai. The fortnight-long exhibition, which began on Friday, puts the spotlight on the significance of landscape design in mapping culture.

The exhibition explores Mughal gardens, Hindu palaces, fort and city gardens, the importance of landscaping and plant life, as well as narratives of individual landscape architects. The Mumbai launch and panel discussions have been organized in partnership with Spade magazine. Samira Rathod, Spade’s editor, says: “Our lecture series aims to find professionals from other walks of life to see what they have to share with us. Besides the opening event with architects Rahul Mehrotra and Riyaz Tayyibji, we have a panel discussion on ‘Landscape, Art And People’ with Aniket Bhagwat, Jitish Kallat, Leandre D’Souza and Sidharth Bhatia.”

Mehrotra, an architect, urbanist and educator, says: “One of the problems in India is that landscape has not been taken seriously, or has only been addressed in terms of gardens. With this exhibition, Aniket has managed to define a framework to look at landscape in a number of ways—through historical narrative, through practitioners and an ecological understanding of landscape.”

In megacities where infrastructure development is pitted against natural systems, landscape architecture and gardens require a refreshed paradigm for discussion. Mehrotra says, “Human settlements of the future will necessarily have to allow nature and its ecological operation to stay intact and make man-made settlements in the interstitial space.”

In Tracing Narratives, photographs, drawings and paintings divided into nine sections capture Mughal gardens, graveyards, parks, step wells and curated spaces like the Vrindavan Gardens and the pavilions and lakes of Mandu. The exhibition will continue with shows in Puducherry, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad.

Tracing Narratives: Indian Landscape Design is on show till 27 May, 11am-7pm, at Chemould Prescott Road, Fort, Mumbai.

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