Friday, March 27, 2015

The Lost Garden

The Woodlands
Philadelphia, PA
September 26 - October 18, 2014

The Lost Garden was a site-specific installation and performance exploring impermanence and the fragile nature of memory.  In the 18th century, The Woodlands was William Hamilton's spectacular botanic garden and greenhouse but it nearly disappeared in the rapid urbanization of the early 19th century. The garden was saved from extinction by transforming it into a Victorian cemetery, or "memory garden."  Drawing on the language of Victorian handcrafts like wax flowers under domes and jewelry made from human hair, my installation of knitted flowers memorialized the lost plants from Hamilton's garden. The performance took audiences on an intimate song tour of the cemetery and into my installation in Hamilton's 18th-century mansion to conjure the dream of the lost garden.

The knitted specimens are based on plants Hamilton collected and wrote about in letters and journals.  I researched patterns for botanically-accurate knitted flowers in Victorian ladies magazines and taught myself to make them. Then I developed my own.

Hamilton's greenhouse was larger than his mansion and held thousands of exotic plants, like this Banksia from Botany Bay.

Performance photos by Ryan Collerd
Installation photos by Joseph Hu