Biennale artist Gabrielle de Vietri calls on the gardeners of Sydney to lend a hand.
Drawing on the traditions of Floriography, a coded floral language prevalent in the 18th and 19th centuries across Europe, the Middle East, Australia and America, artist Gabrielle de Vietri‘s contribution to the 19th Biennale of Sydney (21 March-9 June 2014) is a ‘Garden of Bad Flowers‘.
Rather than an investigation into the coded language commonly used to send secret messages of love, affection and passion between friends and lovers, de Vietri has chosen to investigate the oft-overlooked shadow emotions and acts encompassed by floriography, such as grief, misanthropy, war and hatred.
The site for the installation is the roofless guards’ house on the peak of Cockatoo Island. De Vietri plans to plant an Autumn garden of sorrowful remembrance (Adonis), distrust (Lavender), and, misanthropy and treachery (Wolfsbane), in which visitors to the site can rest and reflect.
Surrounded by grievous marigolds and dangerous rhododendrons, the garden will also be the setting for a program of events addressing the themes unpackaged by the floral symbology. These events will include:
- Annandale community choir, Stairwell to Heaven, will sing songs drawing on the meanings of some of the plants;
- A planning-for-death workshop will be held by a funeral director and estate lawyer;
- A range of experts and enthusiasts from a variety of backgrounds will conduct garden tours including a poetry reading and discussion of Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil) led by writer Benjamin Judd (see the Biennale of Sydney public programmes calendar for further dates and details of events).
Gabrielle is calling on the people of Sydney to help with the provision of plants – some rare, others common – for inclusion in the Garden of Bad Flowers. The donated plants will be cared for from the pick up date (end of January) until the end of the exhibition (June). Plants will be returned, if requested, or donated with the planter modules at the end of the exhibition. Pick-up date will be between January 23 and 30, and plants will be installed on the island at the beginning of February.
If you’d like to know more about the rich and compelling histories the much-maligned plants share, or would like to get in touch with Gabrielle to donate some plants, visit the Garden of Bad Flowers facebook page.
A list of plants sought for the garden follows:
Moreton Bay Fig
Port Jackson Fig(n)
Sandpaper fig (n)
Oleander-leafed Wattle (n)
Cherry plum / Myrobalan
Cherry Laurel (Almond laurel)
Judas tree/Golden chain/Maple
Rose maple/forest maple (n)
Amaranth love-lies-bleeding (e)
Yellow Atamasco Lily
Silky Eremophila (n)
Spreading dogbane / Dogbane (Scardy-cat Plant or Piss-off plant)
Wild White Yarrow
Adonis (autumn pheasant’s-eye)
Sweet Autumn Clemantis/Hops
Saint John’s wort
Rhododendron – late blooming variety
Baby Sunrose, Heartleaf Ice Plant ‘Red Apple’”
Pennyroyal (european mint variety)
Broken straw (pea straw/sugar cane straw)
Hairy bittercress (e)
Cranberry heath (e, n)
Australian bluebell (n)
Rough bluebell (n)”