arcadia: i have been doing some research for my provocation task, looking into both sides of the argument that ‘landscape is imagined’. one of the ideas that i have come across is the notion of ‘arcadia’. arcadia refers to an ideal pastoral landscape: picturesque and in harmony with nature. the origin of the name ‘arcadia’ comes from the Greek province called ‘aρκάδια’ which was inland, mountainous, unpopulated and unspoiled. over time, arcadia became a byword for an idyllic and natural wilderness – a dreamy, unobtainable utopia, a place of the past to return and aspire to. Depicted in poems, paintings and stories, arcadia has been an ever present theme throughout the arts, from Classical Greek narrative of Virgil, the Romantic paintings of Cole, to post-WWII poems of Auden. Rebecca Solnit also make reference to arcadia in As Eve Said to the Serpent (2003, p:18-20). she outlines how arcadia came to represent and celebrate ‘the simple over complex and the rural over the urban’.

arcadia and me: what interests me about the idea of arcadia is how it resonates with many of the ideas that i have been exploring – ideas about an ideal landscape versus the real physical reality of the experience of the landscape. it also ties in with my exploration of ideal landscape, gender and notions of beauty. and of course it ties in with landscape as a vision and vehicle for irish national identity using an ideal rugged, wild. west of ireland landscape to inspire nationalism.

arcadia and the imagination: but back to the ‘provocations’ task – it supports my argument that even the ideal and imagined landscape exists in reality – as an actual place that once existed as an ideal state and as an imagined place tied to its existing origin. the landscape is imagined exists in reality …. to be continued.

Solnit, R. (2001) As Eve Said to the Serpent, On Landscape, Gender, and Art. Georgia: University of Georgia Press.

image: Thomas Cole, 1834, The Arcadian or Pastoral State


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