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Late Medieval Enclosed Gardens of the Low Countries
Contributions to Gender and Artistic Expression

Authors:  Baert B.

Year: 2016
ISBN: 978-90-429-3233-3
Pages: VII-111 p.
Price: 36 EURO

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During the Late Middle Ages a unique type of 'mixed media' recycled and remnant art arose in houses of religious women in the Low Countries: Enclosed Gardens. These are retables, sometimes with painted side panels, the central section filled not only with narrative sculpture, but also with all sorts of trinkets and hand-worked textiles. Adornments include relics, wax medallions, gemstones set in silver, pilgrimage souvenirs, parchment banderoles, flowers made from textiles with silk thread, semi-precious stones, pearls and quilling (a decorative technique using rolled paper). The ensemble is an impressive and one-of-a-kind display and presents as an intoxicating garden. In this essay the exceptional heritage of such Enclosed Gardens is interpreted from a range of approaches. The Enclosed Garden is studied as a symbol of paradise and mystical union, as the sanctuary of interiority, as the sublimation of the sensorium (in particular the sense of smell), as a typical gendered product, and as a centre of psycho-energetic creative processes.

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