NOTE: a few readers misunderstood that the photographs shown here are the display that I
made in Vermont last weekend. Alas, I wish it were true. These photos show the work of two
extraordinary Swiss artists, Gerda Steiner and Jörg Lenzlinger. Ours was beautiful,
but on a much smaller scale and in a much smaller building. Photographs didn’t
convey the design so I chose not to share any.
A recent flurry of building things with branches brought to mind this extraordinary garden, made by Swiss artists Gerda Steiner and Jörg Lenzlinger for the 50th Biennial of Venice in 2003, installed in San Staë church on the Canale Grande. I first saw this breathtaking image on Pinterest. It pushes me to think loftier thoughts of what can be done with twigs, but it also just takes my breath away, on a morning so cold and icy that real green garden seem only a dream. Here is the artists’ statement about the exhibit:
The Doge (Mocenigo) needed a church so as to be able to have a monumental tomb built for himself,
the church (San Staë) needed a saint so as to be able to be built,
the saint (San Eustachio) needed a miracle so as to be pronounced a saint,
the miracle needed a stag in order to be seen, and we built the garden for the reindeer.
The visitors lie on the bed above the doge’s gravestone, and the garden thinks for them.
I spent the weekend weaving twigs and branches to hang from a ceiling in the town hall of Hartland, Vermont. There was to be a dinner there on Saturday night and a friend asked me to help spruce up the setting. We waded into snowdrifts to clip branches from some overgrown lilacs beside her house. The branches filled every available space in my car, and I felt like a modern-day little match girl when we gathered up the load to carry into Damon Hall.
With pruning sheers and wire we arranged four branches into a basic square, then slowly added more branches to produce a twiggy grid. Into this we wove more and more branches and twigs until the designs were fairly rigid. We hung two of these constructions with grosgrain ribbons from the ceiling and then laced them full of twinkling lights. The finishing touch: white lacy snowflakes decending down toward the tables below.