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Diane James

Thesis: “An endless variety of forms and proportions”: Indian Influence on British Gardens and Garden Architecture, 1740-1850.

Supervisor: Dr Rosie Dias.

Research Summary:
My research examines the development of Indian design in British architecture and gardens at the end of the eighteenth century and early nineteenth century, coinciding with the height of the trading of the British East India Company and the return of government officials from India. A number of gardens and houses were built with elements of Indian style including onion domes, chhajja cornices, minarets, temple pools or nandi statues, built in rural counties by returning nabobs, officials and engineers. My research examines the factors which have influenced the use, and also antipathy to this style, including paintings and drawings of India; Orientalism and the sexualisation of the concept of India; Romantic and political literature; imported consumer goods; architectural design books; and the Picturesque movement and its theorists.

My first degree was in History of Art and Design from the University of Central England (now Birmingham City University), where I began looking at the connections between the design of seemingly unrelated countries and activities. My dissertation examined The inter-relationship between fishing and knitting in the development of Fairisle knitwear, with a special study of the role of Shetland women. In 2004 I moved to Bristol University for the MA course in Garden History, and continued in this examination of relationships with a dissertation on the links between a Picturesque garden and historical myth in History, Myth and Mythology: Sir Guy of Warwick and the Landscape of Guy’s Cliffe. At Warwick my PhD research focuses on the inter-relationship between design in India and Britain; how Hindu, Muslim, and Jain monuments and gardens influenced the men, and women, who returned to Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland, after working for the British East India Company. My research is fully supported by the AHRC including a Research Training Support Grant for a visit to India in early 2014.

‘One of the most romantic and pleasant places imaginable: the pleasure grounds of Guy’s Cliffe, Warwickshire’, Follies Magazine, Vol. 2, No. 4, Issue 83 (Autumn 2012), pp.10-13.
Mowl, T., & James, D., Historic Gardens of Warwickshire (Bristol, Redcliffe Press, September 2011).
James, D. (et al.), Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown and the Landscapes of Middle England, Gallery Guide (Compton Verney, June 2011).
James, D., ‘The Architect and the Artist: Malvern Hall in the late 18th and early 19th centuries’, Warwickshire Gardens Trust Journal (Spring 2011), pp.8-13.
James, D., Prayer and Passion: The Story of Priory Park, Warwick, exh. booklet (Warwick, 2001).
James, D., Fifties Fantasy: Themes and Motifs of the 1950s and early 1960s, exh. booklet (Warwick: 1999).

Diane James