Green River II
Painter and landscape architect RUPERT MULDOON in conversation with Sophie Lévy Burton on the outside deck at ROCCA, March 22nd, a day after the March Spring full moon; South Kensington is scratchy with traffic but Rupert arrives graceful and elegant amidst the hub, fresh off the train from Hampshire, I feel a little bit of country arriving with him as he takes a seat, orders a coffee, we immediately start talking painting, plants and life…
“MY FIRST PASSION has always been for plants, walking in nature, walking in landscape. Both my painting and my architectural landscape design follow from this. I have a deep connection to landscape. It’s an easy pleasure, something everyone can have for free, especially in England… I walk every single day, it takes you out of yourself, in fact you don’t think about your self and from this point of view, it is rather like a temple, like church, like a meditation, life in general and the big picture…
In fact I was 11 when I was introduced to the idea of walking meditation. I was at Bedales School in Hampshire and there was an option for meditation classes at the nearby Chithurst Buddhist Monastery, a monastery in the tradition of Theravada Buddhism, in the lineage of Thai forest masters. It was a novelty for us children. I remember we went to the monastery once a week; we were taught different forms of meditation including walking barefoot in the grounds; this was what I took to.
It was utterly simple but it has lasted in me, as a structure for being.
This is not like happiness lessons, and I think happiness comes and goes. The vibrancy of life, the low times, the high times, contentment is more how I’d describe it.
When I was 18 I left Bedales and studied for a BSc in Architecture and the Built Environment in London at UCL, then onto the ETH in Zurich for an MA in Landscape Architecture.
I think by this time landscape and painting – garden and nature – they were one and the same thing for me.
You explore one creatively – and one informs the other. If you think of marks and mark making, or colour and textures – or a canvas and a planting scheme – paint and pigment, soil and earth. Landscape architecture is often called the mother of the arts.