Paradise Field continues my interest in collections and how choices are made about those things that surround us: Sometimes they come to us, again and again. Here an undulating field of traditional looking botanical prints shifts in perspective. Drawn versions of local wildflowers, they collectively re-present an ideal Southern Ontario garden paradise in a soothingly familiar field of information. Each plant is easily named, free of labour, has a history of botanic use, is perennially returning and together bloom continuously throughout our growing season.
But all these plants were introduced to Canada. Their names are multiple reminders of someone, somewhere or something else. From royalty (Queen Anne’s Lace, King Cup, King Devil), the gods and saints (Helenium, Hypericum, Elf wort, St. John’s Wort, St. Joseph’s flower, Maudleyn Daisy) and animals (Bird’s Nest, Oxeye Daisy, Hawkweed, Fox-and-cubs, Hive-vine, Horseweed, Crowfoot, Goatweed, Goat’s Beard ) they are not our own.
Naturalized into fields and waste places, they carry their history with them but are habitually seen as always here, always ours. What has this paradise replaced? Is paradise ever benign? What is included and excluded from our narrative of recovery? Despite a desire for a singular understanding, a longing for permanence in an ideal return, paradise is a shifting construct based on a changing field of understanding. Collections always refer to someone, somewhere or something else.