Edward James’ Las Pozas
Xilitla, San Luis Potosí, Mexico
Edward James (1907-1984) was a wealthy English poet and playwright who was influenced by many of the same artists as Isaiah, including Rene Magritte and Simon Rodia. In 1947 he moved to Mexico where he acquired a coffee plantation near the town of Xilitla, on which he grew hundreds of orchids. When a frost wiped out his orchids in 1962, James turned his attention to designing and overseeing the construction of a sculpture garden instead.
James drew inspiration from his orchids and surrounding vegetation, as well as from elements of the Surrealist movement in art. James didn’t construct the work himself but designed it and had others fabricate the totem poles, towers, and staircases to nowhere that made up the environment. The land began as 80 acres of waterfalls and pools, so he named it Las Pozas, Spanish for “the pools.” After years of neglect the site fell into disrepair. In 2007 a foundation was formed to oversee the restoration and preservation of the site.
A quote by Edward James can be found outside at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens: “I built this sanctuary to be inhabited by my ideas and my fantasies,” along with other references to the artist and his environment. The Zagars visited Las Pozas in 2000.
Biography and photos
Video Great Gardens: Edward James Las Pozas, Mexico by Toby Amies (5 minutes; 2017)
Video interview part 1 and part 2
Top Photo Credit: Domus.com