Nearly 100 people gathered at Compton Verney on 18th June to network and plan for the nationwide celebration of the revered English landscape architect.

Planning takes shape for Capability Brown Festival

The day was at capacity and buzzed with enthusiasm as site owners, managers, school and local authority representatives, landscape architects and project partners shared Brown stories, ideas and ambitions.

The Capability Brown Festival in 2016 will mark the 300th anniversary of his birth, celebrating his life, works and landscapes. Considered ‘the last of the great English eighteenth-century artists to be accorded his due, Brown helped shape the British countryside as we know it today through clever designs of attractive, naturalistic landscapes that incorporated both functional engineering and an economic use of land.

The Capability Brown Festival (CB300) is managed by the Landscape Institute, and currently unites 17 societies, trusts, associations, and organisations. It is funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

The information day at Compton Verney gave delegates an overview of what we need to achieve during the development grant phase and involved festival presentations, and audience development and volunteer workshops. Questions such as ‘How do you bring Capability Brown’s economic, built and landscape work to life?’, and ‘How do you participate as a Capability Brown site?’ were discussed. Ideas for creative twists, events and volunteer involvement were also laid out. Copies of the presentations will be sent to delegates and will be available on request for anyone unable to attend the day.

The day rounded off with an exploration of the Compton Verney landscape, demonstrating a range of different ways that landscape can be interpreted. Small groups broke off to explore the natural landscape, artist maps, bee keeping and to sample 18thC ice cream made at the Ice house. Experts and volunteers gave talks across the site explaining how to identify aspects of the landscape credited to Capability Brown.

Ceryl Evans, CB300 project manager, said the day went even better than she could have hoped . ‘It was a really interesting day with valuable, constructive comments from such interesting and enthusiastic delegates,’ she said. ‘I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who took part in the day, the speakers and volunteers who supported us, to the delegates for their interest and enthusiasm, questions and comments that will help us take the project forward, Also, I want to give big thanks to the team at Compton Verney, who were an absolute dream to work with. We all fell in love with the site and recommend that you go to visit it.’

Many left inspired and enthusiastic to build on the momentum of the day. One delegate, Steve Fancourt, associate landscape architect at Arup, says he is interested in getting involved in the project as Brown’s work lives on in today’s landscape architectural practice.

‘I am fascinated by the fact that in the 18th century, he was designing as a multi-disciplinary mind, and I think that that has huge resonance today,’ he said. ‘Some of the things he was dealing with on a massive scale, landscape engineering, architecture, landscape architecture, are all things that we’re having to do in the current environment of the UK.

‘As an individual, I might be a volunteer as well at local Capability Brown sites. I really do want to tell that story about how these landscapes came into being.’

To get involved, register for the newsletter, or to find out more about the Capability Brown Festival visit the Capability Brown website or contact the Capability Brown Festival project manager Ceryl Evans .

You can also stay up to date through Twitter @BrownCapability, Facebook, or Pinterest

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