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Inhotim, Brazil

In 2004 Pamela Petro and Marguerite Harrison wrote a two-part essay called ‘Brazil in Two Voices’ for Planet 167, about their visit to Serra de Capivara National Park, in north-east Brazil. Harrison grew up in Brazil and learned Portuguese from her Brazilian mother and English from her American father. Petro is a Welsh-speaking American. The earlier essays pivoted on the different sensory means and interior agenda through which the women approached the astonishing flora, fauna, and prehistoric rock paintings at Capivara. These sequel essays record their responses to another of Brazil’s marvels: Inhotim, a contemporary art complex and botanic garden in the state of Minas Gerais, in south-eastern Brazil.

A Versailles for the 21st Century - Pamela Petro

Soon we came upon a wonder. On a hillside sat a large silver telescope anchored to the ground. It looked across a valley filled with palm and eucalyptus trees toward distant blue mountains on the far horizon. In a clearing below the telescope was a phalanx of green spiders called octopus agave plants. When I looked into the telescope I saw this: the view, not whole and near as I expected, but cast upon itself over and over endlessly in a kaleidoscope of mirrors. At the centre was the real hillside, green and beautiful. And we marvelled as to which was more beautiful: the real image or the reflections that surrounded it.

Sharks, Staircases and Glassy Surfaces - Marguerite Itamar Harrison

Blue sky, red earth and a horizon-bound ridge are givens in the iron-rich landscape south of Belo Horizonte near Brumadinho, in the south-east state of Minas Gerais. Contemporary artworks and a vast botanical garden are the unexpected elements that accompany them in the wondrous 3100-acre private park that is Inhotim, which we have come to explore as art lovers and pleasure seekers. Eight years ago we had travelled to Serra da Capivara National Park in north-east Brazil in search of new adventure and escape, for me, from the drudgeries of academic tenure. There we had discovered wonderment and beauty in the interlacing of nature and prehistoric art. This time in Brazil we choose the familiar, on a nostalgic return to my childhood stomping grounds. In terms of escape, I am avoiding the urgent call of forthcoming administrative duties as new head of department. A visually intricate landscape will do the trick, I think. We are joined by my colleague Malcolm who is in Brazil for the Rio + 20 Earth Summit.

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