Benz Kotzen, Sarah Milliken, paysagistes

Crédit Yann Monel

The work

It was on reading the French writer Marcel Proust that the two British landscape designers Benz Kotzen and Sarah Milliken conceived of the installation Willows Of Amiens: at the beginning of the 20th century, Marcel Proust supported the idea that the responsibility of the artist was to confront the appearance of nature and to extract its essence in order to explain it better. Benz Kotzen and Sarah Milliken have here applied this idea to one of the key elements of Amiens heritage, its cathedral. The monument has in fact never ceased to fascinate, including in Great Britain, where John Ruskin, the famous 19th century critic described it, on a certain 11th May during a visit to Amiens and its Hortillonnages, as one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. So as advised by the author of À la recherche du temps perdu, the designers of Willows Of Amiens have confronted the appearance of the building in order to deduce its essence, designing a structure of living willows, inspired by the layout of the cathedral. In this planted nave, the shimmering light dispersed by the stained-glass windows is reinterpreted through the use of wildflowers, sown along the paths. This vibrantly coloured flower meadow changes over time, taking on several different shades between summer and autumn.

The artist

Dr. Benz Kotzen is a landscape designer and senior lecturer at the University of Greenwich with specific research interest in sustainable landscapes. He also runs Sustainable Landscape Arch. Dr. Sarah Milliken is also a landscape designer and an archaeologist and researcher at the University of Greenwich. In 2007 she founded GreenScapes Design, an agency working to promote sustainable landscapes, most often in educational contexts.