Garden Pictures | Michael Black

March 9 – 27, 2022

I have been thinking about gardens. This past summer, the amount of warmth and rain where I live contributed to almost perfect gardening conditions, and everything grew in profusion. But conditions were localized – elsewhere, climate change brought about record-breaking heat, wildfires, flooding and generalized catastrophic variations in the season.  So even as I observed the bursts of colour and form, they felt somehow tenuous and unstable, like a fine but undeserved gift that was awkwardly received.

In general, gardens are redolent with symbolism in many traditions. As the nexus for creation stories or as a focus for earthly representations of a heavenly paradise, the rich associations connected with garden imagery reach across time and cultural specificity.

But there are ghosts in our gardens, too, in the way that gardens echo the history of humanity in the world. The cultivation of gardens invariably implies the desire to subdue and control, bringing together both nature and culture with all of the perceived benefits of that union but also with all of its conjoined historical destructiveness as well. Gardens are loci of growth and decay, not only in terms of natural materials but also in terms of the ways in which we change our understanding of the relationship between the organic and the built environment over time.

Despite everything, there is hope in gardens. As the pandemic has ground on through yet another long winter, I have found myself longing for the first signs of the promise of spring. I hope that these pictures embody for others some of that hope and promise.

Michael Black

Michael J.B. Black graduated from the Ontario College of Art (now OCADU)  in 1984, and holds a Doctorate in Education from the University of Toronto. Michael has shown his work in Toronto, Hamilton, Charlottetown, Creemore, Thornhill and Peterborough. His work is held in several private collections. Michael lives with his Wife in Durham Region and has been a Propeller Member since 2017.

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