This years’ Eden Unearthed: art in the gardens exhibition brings together a range of artists, from students and emerging artists to those of renown, working in several artistic disciplines. Each was asked for works that would seek to enlighten an aspect of Eden Gardens, creating works that engage our community and provoke discussion around environmental awareness and social responsibility. I hope you’re inspired, and immerse yourself in the garden. Take your own path, or follow mine…
The best route for wheel chairs and prams, is located behind the amphitheatre, where you make your way into the garden, otherwise being behind the amphitheatre at the road sign- #7 God speed, by Leon Lester. Scattered around the gardens are various pieces of a puzzle.#7 Turf Wars, by Anne Levitch is referencing, among other things, displacement from ancestral homelands. Part of her work stands in Lane Cove National Park, over the fence. Keep wandering down the gravel path and into the lower section of the garden. Here you will find a selection of works. #8 Anastasis, the mosaic work by Caitlin Hepworth, reflects upon the cycle of regeneration after bushfire and was made after the artist lost her own studio to the massive fires in the Blue Mountains in 2013. She had to “unearth’ the mosaic pieces from the rubble to rebuild this work.
Walk into the clearing and you’ll see the beautiful golden scribbles created by emerging artist Linda Sok. #12 Tunnels, are an oversized tribute to the writings of the Scribbly Gum moth, whose musings are scribed on the trees here endemic to the area. Look down too to see the red gum blossoms from #10, Capitalist Bloom, by Chloe Alice. Just beyond Tunnels is #11 Gibba Wadi Waruna (Stone, wood and string) created by d’harawal saltwater knowledge keeper Shannon Foster, assisted by Father Chris Riley’s Youth off the Streets (who “decolonized the sandstone blocks”), and a group of architecture masters students from the University of Technology, who helped create this yarn circle: a place for gathering and discussion. In this same area is a work by Christina Frank, Pram, #9, which references the sadness and beauty of the bush and pays tribute to the stolen generation.
Move through into the reservoir area. This water tank was designed by landscape architect Jon Shinkfield and inspired by a corealis spiral - the same pattern that creates our weather and water currents. It stores about a 100000 l of water, which is recycled and collected from the garden, and the roof top. Marta Ferracin has created a work called Forget me not, drawing attention to this precious resource and its elemental power and importance. It mimics rain, something that brings life and sustenance to the landscape. Ferracin describes this place as the heart of Eden Gardens, and she has unearthed its beauty in a subtle and atmospheric manner. Note also the work by student artist Natasha Abram, CAUTION: Subject to Drought, #15, which has 5 pieces in total located around the garden. These inverted flood metres, highlight the dire position drought puts our community, flora and fauna in.
Wander up the (now dry) creek bed through the woodland garden. This work, inspired by water by Elizabeth West is called Rapid, #16, and is a call to action and highlights the effect plastics are having polluting our waterways and environment. You might discover also Chloe Alice’s other work Sunbeam Perspective, #17, Christina Frank’s Breakthrough, #20, Gemma McKenzie Booth’s hanging slugs #18, Limas Maximus, and the evolving work of Stratum, by student artist Geirthana Nandakumaran; she is creating a modern day artefact that also speaks of our love of plastics. As you make your way upstream to the Daffodil Garden. If you wish, pop a note in a bottle at The Message Tree, #21, by Matt McLarty. Take not too if the bobbing boats in the water lily pond by artist Danielle Minett and the work by student artist Jack Poppert #23, titled Eden: slipped, tripped and stumbled. This sculpture attempts a collective reparation within a world where we are constantly influenced by post-modernist tendencies. Note the shards of colour piecing the Bride Lawn. Rainbow Ceremony, #39, by Akira Kamada celebrates the inclusive decision passed by parliament last year and rejoices in its many colours and contours.
From here, you can’t help but notice #24 The Corporate Snake, by Jan Cleveringa, a self-described “greenie” at heart. This work is created with thousands of fluorescent tubes, woven into each other through the garden, creating a powerful serpentine motif. These still-working globes highlight our wasteful ways and the need for changes in our corporation’s law to endorse environmentally responsible business. This work brings to light the gardens at Eden and highlights the need for action by business to save our planet.
A cluster of student works can be seen from this point, including Isabella Feek’s Flora,#32, which has taken native Australian flora from Eden Gardens to create a two dimensional pressing where of our present era. Harry Copas’ evolving work Compositive, #25, employs worms as an active participant in his art making. The fertiliser derived from worm castings is used to rejuvenate discarded and forgotten plants. Emma Pinsent’s #26 Curled Up re-imagines representational figuration out of soft paper pulp. Discover too the hidden custodian of Eden Gardens Bower Bill, #27, created by Aleisa Jelbart.
From here, don’t miss # 28 & 29, by Aaron James McGarry, with Wings Without Wind and BIG Little Things, which both speak about our impact on the environment. The adjoining work, #30, Colony, by Chris Trotter, also points to themes of habitat and his other work, # 37 Sonic Bloom, references water quality with the frog nestled into the flower, which you can view nicely from the walkway. Perhaps the most startling work in the exhibition is # 31, Regret, by Louis Pratt. Made using a 3D computer, this war torn black figure confronts us with the effects of climate change and our lack of action. Across the pathway the whirling work is created by artistic duo Frolic and Gambol Geoshrine, #33, has a PET bottle deity at its heart that lights up and beckons. It reminds us of the ‘hothouse effect’ and our dependency on plastics that is polluting natural systems.
If you’re tired, the next few works invite you to stop a moment and reflect. #34, Sentinel Ledge, by Ainslie Murray offers a seat with a new perspective, whilst #35 Memory Wave V, by Allyson Adeney, was inspired originally by holiday snow domes, encourages us to slow down and ponder. Against the saffron coloured wall Neelam Gopalani’s work #36 The Walk Forward, celebrates migration within Australia and takes inspiration from tribal paintings out of her family’s country of origin, India. The tree is symbolic of family connections, and Gopalani is planning on ‘”growing” the tree during the exhibition to represent seasonal change and putting down roots.
As you climb back up the tower, you can’t help note the sounds and smells of # 38 The Dream of the Fallen Tree, by Atelier 23. This tree, pieced together from onsite timbers, is a poor version of a real tree, and chastens us to look closer at deforestation and loss of habitat. #40 Wingspan, by Gemma McKenzie-Booth, uses recycled umbrellas to highlight the clashes and interactions between people, agriculture and the natural environment. In the Dragonfly café, #42, Water Dragons by Barry Anthony, relates similar themes. Likewise The Last Resort, #2, by Clare James, is located outside the store entrance beside the elevator is a spider like creature that rises up from the underground carpark reaching for the light with a sense of desperation.
The diversity in the exhibition reveals how, for each artist, Eden Gardens has meant something different. For Eden Gardens, including staff in the exhibition, with the addition of #41 The Kokedama Ball, by Lindy Wong, is a wonderful overlap between what we do here to build communities together. # 3, Interwoven and Unravelled by Leanne Thompson is another engaging work that will continue to evolve over the exhibition as sculpture is a framework to be added to during various workshops and event such as Science Week of Sydney Craft Week. At the end of the exhibition the work will be relocated into the country and form part of a river rehabilitation experiment using the reeds grown here in the work. #4 The Magic of the Garden, by Alison Thompson, created a garden of wonder and enchantment, and you can also join Alison during Sydney Craft Week and create your own critter to add to the installation.
Immerse yourself…vote for your favourite, and return again as the exhibition continues to evolve and grow with events and workshops.