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The Tangled Garden

This project presents aparadise as a walled enclosure where the representation of the garden is the wall. On each wall, familiar flora and fauna found in that cardinal direction are presented in a decorative style also found in the area. The definition of the limits of direction, as well as what is perceived as familiar are, as in any paradise, personal.

The project was inspired by a cloister mural that I saw in Malinalco Mexico in 2016 that was painted in the late16th century by indigenous artists for an Augustinian monastery. The cloister imagery presents a paradise garden of local flora and fauna referencing Spanish colonial print sources and Aztec symbolism. Thinking about the hybridity of this mural I drew the plants, birds and insects in my southern Mexican garden as a way to both understand them and Spanish colonial decorative schemes, while wrestling with that history and my relationship to place as tourist neo-colonizer. 


The Northern panels present familiar flora and fauna found near my home in Port Hope, Ontario, Canada and was completed in 2020 during the pandemic. I chose an Arts and Crafts decorative scheme as I live in a historic19th century town. Here again I grapple with that history and what has been lost in choices that were made and continue to be made, as I attempt to understand my relationship to home and this present paradise.

As I continue to read and struggle with this tangle of relationships, I imagine garden walls for what may be claimed as east and west. Who decides what is East and West? What decisions do these claims entail and in what ways can I work to understand my relationship to, and my responsibility for, them?

Each wall section consists of 12 18x24" plaster on wood panels drawn with India ink. 

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