When is a garden not a garden? Why, when it is a work of art of course!
And this was the precise challenge given to local artist and UBCO graduate Kyle Zsombor: Take the empty and rather severe inner courtyard space of the Kelowna Art Gallery and turn it into some kind of planted paradise.
As an installation artist keen to explore viewers’ experiences of spaces, and an avid gardener himself, Zsombor was more than up for the project. He received the commission in the spring of this year, and he started thinking and planning right away, deciding he wanted to create a vertical garden, sometimes called a living wall—the first of its kind in Kelowna.
Basically this is a hydroponic way of growing plants, that is, without soil.
The plants root into a damp fabric on a support and thrive on nutrients pumped into the water supply.
Zsombor decided to also make a planted arbour in the centre of the space (called the Rotary Courtyard) using lengths of PVC pipe as his columns, which have been planted with various flowering plants along with ever-bearing strawberries. These three-dimensional pieces help define the space of the courtyard against the backdrop of his “canvas,” which is about 20 by 20 feet in size.
Gardening is a human activity—it is not known whether agriculture as such is practiced by any animals. As a pursuit, gardening has its own history, closely linked to changes in philosophy and science over the ages, and in different parts of the world. Viewers can muse upon this special lens onto human history as they wander around the courtyard garden, or sit on the chairs placed there for their relaxation.
Normally the Kelowna Art Gallery produces a printed publication for each of its exhibitions, but in this case it was decided to create a web-based publication, so that new photographs of the garden could keep being added as the plants grew and flowered.
There is a curatorial text as a part of this site that goes into the history of human thought as it has applied itself to gardens.
This installation is the first in a series of installations collectively called The Artist’s Garden Project. Each artist commissioned to work in the space will be given a full year for their work. In this way each artist has all four seasons to consider in creating their piece.
So Kyle Zsombor’s A Green Desire will be in place until the spring of 2014, when another artist will be invited to transform the space once again.