Exhibition review: Eden Unearthed

A garden sculptural exhibition in full bloom.

The hours that you spend wandering the 2.5 acres that enable and inspire Eden Garden’s Unearthed art installations at Macquarie Park will tell you a great deal about yourself — not just what stops you in your tracks but what gentle paths are foot followed and what sets the heart to soar or the mind to ponder. The questions of our inner selves are as unique and individual as the leaves, bushes and trees that surround us during this meandering experience.

With 35 sculptures and art installations site-specifically responding to, or challenging the garden acreage, Eden Unearthed is the largest privately-funded exhibition of its kind and is back for its fifth year. With this evening’s launch taking place in superb weather, it’s the best of what Sydney can offer to both the plant and art lover.

Entry is through a raised bridge where many of the works can be seen from above and where groups cluster to look over at something which grabs them. Is it the colour, size and brightness that’s eye-catching? Such as the #28 Zenova Flower from Chloe Alice Stafford, with its large iridescent petals that shimmer in full sun on a neat section of lawn. Or are you drawn by the contemplative? As in #19 Gold Leaf (Anne Palmer), that’s multi-toned and evocative of richness decaying as it hides away near one of Eden Garden’s all year Showcase Gardens, Green BackYard (Andrew Davies). 

Are you a realist who requires representation? #9 Seed Bank (Sally Kidall) is a work of bubbling grace and vital immediacy. It will keep you standing for long moments of consideration and delight tinged with a raging hope that the work will one day be redundant.

For those with a need to touch something not of foliage but self-made? In the magnolias and blackened bamboo, a red thread beckons as #18 Being Keepers (Ryoko Rose with Danielle Minett) converses with knots and loops. The feet know where the heart wishes to go, be it swaying purple saliva or the dense green shade.

The young artist or green-fingered child will run free in this glorious space of adventure and splendour. There is a Children’s Art Trail and child-friendly signage and a generationally apposite theme of sustainability. If they prefer to stick with you, the thoughtful child might be moved to linger by an exhortation to count lichen from #05 Symbiont (Marta Ferracin) or nestle into their imagination at #20 My Happy Place (Alison Thompson), which takes the crochet cossetting of trees and poles to the next level in a glorious display of welcoming whimsy, and in what the artist says is ‘the everchanging nature of Eden Garden’.

Thompson is in her fourth year of selection and says there is a commitment to accessibility as each of the artworks has a QR code for video and artist statements.

Knowing how and why these works are made, and why they stand where they do in the environment, has some surprises in store. Such as #22 Knots of Eden (Pamela Leung), which is not small white butterflies of soft and quiet stuff as it appears from the bridge. There’s a twinkle in the air as they are made of porcelain, created in her home country of China and mixed with malt sugar for pliability. They are as individual as the natural surrounds in which they sway and mesmerise.

The exhibition is now open and will run for six months with various events and workshops happening over that time, all the while gifting Sydneysiders with an oasis of self-reflection, where spirits are refreshed by nature and stimulated by creativity.

Though Eden Garden pays stipends to all the artists featured, Eden Unearthed is free to wander and is on exhibit until April 2022.

Eden Gardens is located at 307 Lane Cove Road, Macquarie Park, NSW



By: Judith Greenaway