China Bower


The Garden Paradise is an illusive construct of memory created from experience and a dream of perfection. It is a glimpse of the world that is infinitely variable and individually selected to include only those aspects most desired. Imagined in perpetual bloom, it is a focus of unattainable longing. It provides pleasure to the senses and the soul and helps to define the self.


As part of Harbourfront Toronto’s Artist Gardens, I created a fragment of paradise. A larger paradise was implied by the overscaled, but truncated drawing in broken china of a foliage pattern that filled the plot: This Paradise could continue but for car parks, paved walkways and roads. In my garden paradise lay a white china bower: a dwelling, an inner room, a female space closed-in with foliage. The bower read virginal white glistening in the sunlight, but closer scrutiny revealed the contradiction of colourful patterns in permanent blooms painted on the china fragments. The bower form echoed the painted rose foliage on its shattered surface and the rose bushes it reached towards. Fragrant thyme and soft mosses grew over the bower in the summer hiding the sharp shards and promising a comforting green and delicately floral bed. In the winter the white, sharp and floral painted garden of shards bloomed again.

garden 4 6 rose

The Harbourfront site is located on nineteenth century Toronto landfill. Broken crockery is often unearthed in such locations. In old neighbourhoods shards emerge unchanged as soil is disturbed with renovation and garden cultivation. Although broken, the charm of their floral patterns remain, but they are also reminders of once chosen, impossible ideals. At the Harbourfront site people would often sift through the shards as at an archaelogical dig, seeking connection in familiar patterns—a mother’s or grandmother’s china—a small, sharp reminder of home. I needed to regularly replenish the broken shards as members of the public collected both mementos of the past in their own ‘paradise’ and souvenirs of their day at Harbourfront.


* * * * adventurer

  China Bower was removed in 2010 because of the need for more parking. I would love another opportunity to plant a paradise garden.


  24 shards

  Recent additions to Identification Collection. All paintings 3" x 3"

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