Eleanor Cunningham’s photographic series The Unknown Hortus examines the contrast between aesthetics and science. The title originates from the Latin phrase “Hortus Conclusus” meaning enclosed garden. The photographs portray a sense of loneliness and the beautiful memories of an unknown enchanted garden. The garden motif is re occurring in Cunningham’s work, as she investigates the symbolism of the English landscape through the process of photography and alternative techniques. Her fascination with the mysterious monuments and follies, which do not necessarily hold any direct relation to their surroundings are central to her photographs. Through her photographs she offers a secret passage of escape into another and altogether more beautiful world.These selected works depict landscapes of Hyde Park, Crystal Palace, Shugborough Estate and Chiswick gardens. These public gardens are known for their unique and unusual points of interest such as monuments and local history. For example, in (Hidden Fable (featured)) she presents The Shepherd’s Monument located in the gardens of Shugborough Estate, Staffordshire. This 18th-Century monument displays a relief of Nicolas Poussin’s painting, ‘The Shepherds of Arcadia’, which depicts a woman and three shepherds, with two shepherds pointing towards a tomb. Carved on the tomb is “Et in arcadia ego,” or “I am even in Arcadia” in Latin. The mysterious inscription (which has not yet been decoded) is located beneath the relief, and contains the letters O U O S V A V V. Framing these eight letters, at a slightly lower level, are the letters D M. So cryptic is the cipher text, many have attempted to solve the enigma and failed. One popular theory is that Nicolas Poussin was a member of the secretive Priory of Sion, a Medieval monastic order, and that his painting ‘The Shepherds of Arcadia’ contains deep esoteric messages hidden within it.Proponents of this theory believe that decoding the inscription, supposedly masonic symbols, would lead to the location of the Holy Grail. It is not clear if the inscription will ever be decoded, or if it was ever intended to be. So for now, the Shugborough Inscription remains a mysterious puzzle for individuals to try to solve, though its true meaning may have already been lost. Many of the locations featured in this series contain similar artifacts with an unknown cause, thus the ideology of the secret garden is still to this day very present. The discovery of a door in a wall leading to an enchanted garden can be seen as a part of a wider contrast between the rational and the imaginative elements of experience. Every day we see our world fair and common, the hoarding and the pit. By our daylight standard we have walked out of security into darkness and the unknown. These landscapes have been distorted into an almost untouchable state and this leads to the question; are we the victims of that fantastic dream? This untraced world simply suggests the magic and danger of a nostalgia for a buried time. Thus, in a trice, we step into the garden that has haunted all of our lives…   The first Solo show of Eleanor Cunninghams work will be on display at The Gallery On The Corner, Battersea, London. 27th - 30th May 2016Opening hours: 9am - 4pm Please join us for the private view on Thursday 26th May, from 6pm. LOCATION:155 Battersea Park Rd,London SW8 4BU