This exhibition shows two bodies of drawings that examine two diametrically opposed conceptions of a “garden” as a planned space, set aside for the display, cultivation, and enjoyment of plants and other forms of nature.
Project in Context:
For the past 10 years I have lived and worked in Northwest Alberta, exploring in my art practice the interrelationship between the local and the global: in particular how history, society, and culture determine our experience of place.
The first body of drawings titled “Eye, The Lake and I” consists of a series of fifty graphite drawings from nature; hung in the shape of an ovoid form suggesting an eye. These drawings were executed during a residency at the Morris Graves Foundation, Loleta, California, May 2004. Morris Graves is associated with the American school of West Coast mystics based in Seattle, such as Mark Tobey, who were active during the 30s and 40s. In 1964, Graves moved to Loleta, California, near Eureka where he built a home and studio beside a small lake located in the middle of the Redwood Forest. Until his death in 2001, Graves, who was particularly influenced by Asian spiritual and religious traditions, especially Buddhism, transformed the property in subtle ways to become a three-dimensional mandala for contemplation.
The second body of work consisting of nine ink on paper drawings, which are based upon historical photographs of Lethbridge, Alberta’s first urban park: Galt Gardens. Galt Gardens Park is the centerpiece of downtown Lethbridge. It is a two block square section of land, 9.16 acres in size, bounded by 1st Avenue and 3rd Avenue on the north and south sides respectively, and 5th Street and 7th Street on the west and east sides. Simply known as The Square in its early days, this section of land was set aside from the very start of urban development in Lethbridge. The Galt family, the founders of the City of Lethbridge, reserved it, as parkland by Elliot Galt in the original town plan surveyed in 1885 owned the land. Today the park is the current site of the Southern Alberta Art Gallery. From its inception Galt Gardens, despite numerous changes over its hundred year history is very formal in its design and character, inspired by the European models such as Versailles. This is in stark contrast to Grave’s organic approach to gardening, where nature is transformed in imperceptible ways.
The juxtaposition of these two bodies of drawings will make the viewer aware of the different ways humanity, inspired by very different world views and cultural traditions continue to use the practice of horticulture to order nature to create a man-made paradise for the contemplation and mediation upon nature.
– Edward Bader