Un-silencing: Capturing landscape vastness

Visit to Bramham Park, October of 2018, Photo by: Anna Rhodes

In this post, Dr Francisca Lima, a landscape designer and a lecturer at Edinburgh College of Art, reflects on the process of un-silencing during fieldtrips…

I am usually faced with long periods of silence during a fieldtrip with the first-year students of Landscape Architecture to emblematic English gardens like Stowe, Rousham, Bramham, Hidcote, or Chatsworth.

These students can easily feel lost amid the complex demands of the experience. The pressure to find a social niche and to respond to academic expectations can certainly cause some unease, especially during the first weeks away from home.

Visit to Bramham Park, October of 2018, Photo by: Anna Rhodes

Each morning, before visiting a new garden, we add another layer of tension to the experience by inviting students to share their drawings with each other. Typically, two or three will do it spontaneously on the first day. All will want to do it on the last day. These short sessions are the core place to share progress and learn, but most importantly they are the places for un-silencing: un-silencing their doubts regarding what is being asked of them, how to capture this landscape vastness, or simply voicing their writings and thoughts.

This “un-silencing” process happens in parallel with an increased care and passion for the object they are producing: the analogue notebook where they record the places that we all begin to experience, understand and capture jointly. The exercise of keeping a field notebook/journal/sketchbook will accompany them along the four years of their education as Landscape Architects at The University of Edinburgh. It becomes a way of thinking, making, producing and imagining that is, hopefully, intrinsic to their work.

Each new day on the field becomes less silent; each day on the bus, also. And, surprisingly, the students’ aim to capture the vastness of the landscape on their blank pages is gradually achieved, whilst at the same time retaining fine details of natural growth, like that of a tree captured by Sofía García Mazanaro at Hidcote:

Student’s notebook pages of the Gardens of Stowe and Hidcote by Sofía García Manzanaro.

Likewise, for me, this experience is one of multiple challenges, from capturing the landscape myself without losing either its details nor its grand and unique scale, to helping students feel comfortable enough to capture their own landscapes. I un-silence myself only when necessary…

Francisca Lima

Dr Francisca Lima is a landscape designer and a lecturer at Edinburgh College of Art, where she currently teaches history and theory of landscape architecture. In 2016, she obtained her PhD from ESALA – University of Edinburgh – which focused on the impacts of urban depopulation, with a full scholarship from the Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation. Before her doctoral project, Francisca had been collaborating with several Portuguese landscape design offices, as well as with the Centre of Philosophy and LEAF, University of Lisbon.

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