As a counterpoint to the planning and design of large-scale landscapes in a corporate office, I was moved to create smaller, controlled environments that I call "garden reliquaries." I chose the format of small box constructions because it seemed to me to be one of the best forms to inspire wonder and mystery. These boxes are a personal investigation of what the garden means to me. These reduced and enclosed environments allow me to create a stage setting for garden scenes that have the possibility of secret and mystical experience. In summary, each construction is a story, a mystery for one to decipher, to wonder about and to interpret. I believe in gardens. I believe in their power to transform and inspire. These gardens are an attempt to sanctify this experience and, at the same time, intensify the quest for the true meaning of the garden.
The Sacred Icon
Because to me the garden is a sacred thing, I wanted to design the boxes as icons. Western society tends to deify humans but rarely nature. My first objective was to construct a series of garden like scenes and put them under glass. Within the box and under its protective glass, the garden becomes a religious reliquary. It becomes its own self-contained universe.
In these reliquaries, traditional garden designs are juxtaposed with very nontraditional forms. The intent of this striking contrast is to jolt the viewer into reconsidering their sense of reality. Within the boxes, unexpected objects and devices are placed against one another to purposely disorient the compositions. This is to encourage the viewer to dream of gardens that were and of those that can be.
The art of the garden reliquary is also an attempt to illustrate the metaphysical, transcendental qualities that the Sufi garden masters tried to illuminate in their garden poetry. To the Sufi, all plants have a hidden message for the traveler of the path. The garden boxes try to encourage the viewers to look beyond surface meaning. The longer one observes the boxes, the greater the level of meaning.
The box constructions are also a repository of garden ideas. I hope that the themes and plans of the boxes can eventually become real gardens, as public or three-dimensional sculptures. This will expand the message to a larger audience.