Visitors to Vancouver’s VanDusen Botanical Garden might notice something a little bit different this summer.
Carved into one of the garden’s deep green lawns is what seems to be an enormous zipper. Crafted from interlocking blocks of salvaged Douglas fir, the zipper runs down a grassy slope and opens up at the bottom. The effect is magical – like the land is clothed in grass and the zipper opens to the earth below.
The installation is one of several examples of Earth Art on display at the garden this summer. Earth Art refers to the use of organic materials taken from the landscape to create elaborate natural sculptures that decay over time. It has been a popular art movement since the 1960s, and some of its most famous practitioners are now hard at work at VanDusen.
Stop by the 55-acre green oasis now and you can see local and international earth artists in action, creating monumental sculptures that transform VanDusen into a giant canvas. Among the most impressive is an installation that looks a bit like a lopsided Stonehenge. Enormous stone slabs left over from the construction of the seawall have been embedded in the ground in two concentric circles. The stones lean outward, looking almost like a massive rock flower whose petals are gently opening to the sun.
Meanwhile, behind the rose garden, you can check out the little green dress project. A Vancouver artist has recreated the iconic “little black dress” in every woman’s wardrobe, albeit using leaves, branches and flowers. There are 28 snug-fitting gowns on display – some still green, others withering away to browns.
And that’s partly the point of Earth Art. It’s meant to be ephemeral, drawing viewer’s attention to the fleeting nature of life and the beauty that comes with decay and the return to the landscape.
The Earth Art show officially opened at VanDusen Botanical Garden in early August and extends through the end of September.
Anyone seen the Earth Art exhibit at VanDusen? What’s your favourite work of art?