Edward James and the Surreal Garden

On the outer edge of a remote mountain town in Mexico lies one of the largest and least known artistic monuments of the twentieth century: an inexplicably strange garden (Las Pozas) that, in terms of incongruity, ranks alongside The Watts Towers in Los Angeles and the Palais Ideal created by the Facteur Cheval in France.

Edward James was the unconventional character responsible for creating it, with his friend Plutarco Gastelum. Edward was a poet, better known for funding the early career of Salvador Dali - he co-designed the lobster telephone and the Mae West lips sofa - and for the surreal style of his Sussex home, Monkton House..

Journalist Joanna Moorhead discovers the bizarre sequence of events that led to the creation of Las Pozas and its struggle for survival since Edward's death in 1984. Made possible by Edward's wealth, Mexico's climate, the country's unique construction skills and a strong bond between Edward and a Mexican family, is it a valuable piece of Mexican heritage? Mere whimsy? Or a surreal tribute to the great gardens of England? In a country acclaimed for its ancient archaeological sites, and against the backdrop of a worsening security situation, what are the difficulties of preserving Las Pozas? And is it really one of the foremost concrete artworks in the world?

With artists Pedro Friedeberg and Melanie Smith, filmmaker Rafael Ortega, surrealism expert Dawn Ades and architect Matthew Holmes, who is leading the conservation of Las Pozas.

Producer: Tamsin Hughes

First broadcast in June 2012.

Release date:

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Wed 17 Jul 2013 22:15

Related topics

Six Secret Smuggled Books

Nelson mandela

Six classic works of literature we wouldn't have read if they hadn't been smuggled...



Seven images inspired by the grid

World Music collector, Sir David Attenborough

JS114374909 attenborough large trans K8oq TXSPAJ0t21o ESlo XRk CIv3505 E63j Nj QF1 Hma4

The field recordings Attenborough of music performances around the world.

Attenborough's field recordings

Attenborough's field recordings

The unlikely music performances captured while searching for exotic animals to film.