12 November 2012

Garden Things with Ivan Terestchenko

Beautiful-I say, but that is what I always say about Ivan Terestchenko's photographs. I own several of them-I have his books-though THE PRIVATE WORLD OF YVES SAINT LAURENT & PIERRE BERGE book is exquisite-I am partial to his book The Garden Room. The combination of his illustrations, garden photography and his partnering for the book with Tim Mawson makes it so. Just imagine how happy I was when I saw Ivan's new book Garden Things on his Visual Diary HERE.
If you follow his posts-you already know what I do-that he is the embodiment of my ongoing topic-Living ART.

"These little books are very precious to me, they are the creme de la creme so to speak of my archives, collected 
during the 25 last years and never published- 90 photographs about gardens in the USA, France, Italy.

 all photographs by Ivan Terestchenko, used with permission

Ivan, always the perfect gentleman, agreed to answer some questions for me about the book-and to send me some of his photographs of his copy of the book.

PGT: This book- just flipping through it online makes my pulse quicken a little-It just looks exquisite.

What prompted your putting it together?

IVAN: I am constantly for a reason or another going through my archives and forgotten photos keep popping up to the surface. They were not meant to stay like Sleeping Beauty in the secrecy of some remote vault, they want to see the light.
Internet is just another way of throwing things into the big barrel where they will be swallowed up in an instant with all the rest of what goes in there. Blogs, Tumblr, Tweet, Facebook, you name it, is nothing more than a waste bucket and the phenomenon of consuming photography on line is making me sick. Prints, real prints are wonderful but one can't print everything and even so the circulation would be to small.
I have always loved books.

It is in books that I like looking at photography most, besides, these books are the true image archive of the future when no one will be able to read obsolete digital files, Ha ha !!

PGT: I recognize a few places you include the properties of-Horst, Bill Blass, who else-where else & what else?

IVAN: Yes- Horst in Oyster Bay, Bill Blass and Peter Wooster and of course Tim Mawson's were places I visited when photographing "The Garden Room" book with Tim. During the rainy days, to keep busy, I used his cellar as a studio and shot all sorts of little still lifes using Tim's collection of miniature garden tools.

In the book there are also a couple of pages on the park of Versailles, which I knew like the back of my hand for crossing it every day on my way to school. Paris, Place St Germain des Pres, had once been transformed into a fake and surreal farm with grumpy looking farmers like out the Grapes of Wrath and finally the exquisite garden of the Borromeo family on Isola bella, one of the most beautiful gardens in the world on the Italian lakes. The last picture and only colour one, is in Ben's television garden in Nice. A healthy provocation.

pages from Garden Things

PGT: What really caught my eye was the incredible still life pieces you've included. There is a that-along with a trompe l'oeil quality-of them. It's hard to describe. Can you explain that elusive quality they have? What a blessing we have the photograph.

IVAN: I think I was at the time influenced by all the books Tim Mawson had in his personal library. He had all these "Saturday Book" and other priceless printed things by Duncan Grant and such. It was heaven.
Tim was the first man to open a botanical library with rare editions of Vita Sackville West in New York in the 70's. I think it was called Pomander Bookshop which he sold before opening a Garden Antique shop in New Preston Connecticut. 

He had such an eye and vast culture on these things, blessed are those who knew him then, such a place could never exist today.  I am immensely fortunate to have met him and what is best to have worked with him.

PGT: I think these still life works are my favorites.The sculpture is beautiful too.Can you possibly have a favorite of your own?

IVAN: I would have several favorites, actually I love them all. Its been a problem all my life, I just cannot choose.

This would explain why I was never able to put up a show. I need someone to do this for me. They are all from black and white negatives and have this particular quality gone with the digital process. I see it today, didn't when I actually shot them, so if I had to choose one which defines me most it would be the two leaves fallen from the plane tree. This one would probably make a gorgeous platinum print or a simple post card that would be the work of some photographer, possibly very famous, but one couldn't tell exactly which. This photo and the one next to it has got something bigger than me.

PGT: I wholeheartedly agree with you statement about the tactile in our lives- We will never replace the book or the photograph for that matter. There is truly something remarkable about holding one in your hand. Can you explain it?

IVAN: What is it about books that we love so much ? Imagine how the shelves of your home stripped of its books would feel like to get a sense of the loss if one didn't have them. I think of books as the embodiment of the soul and the mind behind it. Open it, read it or look at it, it's all there.

the book GARDEN THINGS can be previewed at Blurb,  HERE

I have 2 copies on the way-one for my library- (No, I can not imagine the shelves at home stripped of books-it would be a loss.) & one will be a Christmas gift.

(I did ask Ivan about descriptions of the garden photographs and he is told me-
I didn't put a description of the photos because it would have damaged the lay-out but still it's a shame because it would have been interesting to know for instance that the white house with the tree in full blossom is the home of Horst P Horst in Oyster Bay etc...  Now that you tell me I will prepare a document that one can download with all the particulars)

all photographs by Ivan Terestchenko, used with permission

Ivan Terestchenko photography  HERE


  1. I see shades of Demeyer in the composition pieces, and the glass bell jar with light beaming thru showing the rings of the blown glass and leaves.

    I remember meeting the young woman who helped found BLURB

    1. I like the connection to de Meyer. I see the great Horst in these still life composition pieces by Ivan-but mostly Ivan is singular in his eye and verve. His blog is one I stop by often.

  2. perhaps we begin to see what will happen to us all...
    the return to photos
    more books
    and more mail of course.
    courage and beauty.

  3. I do see it in print-I hope it all does turn, though where would I be without you? I have reaped wonderful creative friends through this spot on the net. I think Ivan exemplifies the best of both in his blog and his photography-can not wait to get this book. pgt

  4. Terestchenko and Little Augury -combined, together -and talking about books, and gardens and photography. It does not get any better.

  5. The two of you make my heart leap with joy. Thank you for this, thank you for it all.

  6. I look forward to this book which should arrive tomorrow.
    Patricia, your post makes me eyes shining !

  7. A brilliant conversation-interview. Can't wait for my copy to arrive..

  8. Dear Gaye,
    Thank you for asking me. Thank you for being such a faithful supporter.

    1. the book is a beauty. I need to check to see if your list is available at blurb. the 2nd book is a gift! pgt



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