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Artists’ Gardens blossom with three new installations

TORONTO, July 8, 2004 — Harbourfront Centre celebrate the 15th anniversary of Artists’ Gardens with the introduction of three new gardens designed by visual artists Mike MacDonald, Liz Parkinson and Sandra Rechico. From July 9 through October, this unique programme presents 23 diverse gardens, including 20 mature gardens from past years. Since the programme’s inception in 1990, landscape architects, designers, craftspeople, performing artists and visual artists have created living installations across the Harbourfront Centre site, curated by Dianne Bos and Patrick Macaulay.

All 23 Artists’ Gardens are situated outdoors on the Harbourfront Centre site, 235 Queens Quay West. A free self-guided tour map of the gardens is available at the Info desk and at York Quay Gallery. A public opening reception for Artists’ Gardens and the summer exhibitions takes place on Friday, July 9, from 6 to 9 p.m. in York Quay Gallery. Admission to the reception and the gardens is free. For details, the public can call 416-973-4000 or visit www.harbourfrontcentre.com.

Garden Tour
Larry Sherk, horticulturist and currently a consultant for Sheridan Nurseries Limited, conducts a free walking tour of the gardens at 1 p.m. on Saturday, August 28. Larry was Chief Horticulturist at Sheridan Nurseries Limited for 32 years and has worked closely with the Artists’ Gardens programme since the beginning. Larry continues to share his wealth of knowledge about growing ornamental plants in Canada as he discusses the choice of plants and their viability in an urban environment, as well as how the artists have used them and how the gardens have evolved over the years on this site. The tour begins at garden #1, Sandra Rechico’s Daisy World.

New Gardens
A Butterfly Garden by Michael MacDonald has been created as part of Planet IndigenUs, an international, multi-disciplinary contemporary arts festival celebrating the innovation, adaptability and evolution of Indigenous identity, which runs from August 13 to 22.

In the mythology of many Native tribes, butterflies are afforded great respect as representing the spirits of the medicine people who have passed on. In fact, a butterfly garden is also a medicine garden. The native plants that butterflies use have traditional medicine uses: aspirin comes from spiraea and valium from valerian. Yarrow, echinacea, liatris, and asters are all-important in traditional medicine.

Working in video installation and photography as well as planting butterfly gardens on the grounds of art galleries & museums across Canada and in Europe, MacDonald transforms his individual approach to his Mi'kmaq heritage into visual arts. He currently resides in Halifax.

Within Liz Parkinson’s China Bower lies a white china bower, drawn as a fragment of a larger pattern of feminized space. The bower echoes the painted foliage on its shattered surface and the rose bushes it reaches towards. Nestled within a verdant carpet of fragrant foliage, the shards of the bower settle, but remain unchanging through the seasons, offering glimpses of promised perfection, broken. The garden paradise is a dream of perfection. It is a glimpse of the world individually selected to include only those aspects most desired. It is a focus of unattainable longing in its perpetual bloom.

The plants in this garden were chosen from John Parkinson’s 1629 garden manual A Garden of Pleasant Flowers: Paradisi in sole Paradisium Terrestris. This first garden manual describes 1000 plants that were available in England at the time and discusses the place, the time, the names, and the virtues of each. Many of these once novel plants are familiar in our own gardens, having been brought to Canada by settlers as reminders of home.

Sandra Rechico’s Daisy World is a perennial garden full of blooms with composite daisy-like forms. There’s a ridiculous sort of simplicity in daisies; they evoke memories of grandmothers, forgotten songs, childhood fields, temporary adornments and adolescent love predictions. Daisies are full of simple exuberance and honesty.

Rechico is an installation artist who lives and works in Toronto. Her work has been exhibited across Canada and abroad, and featured in Canadian Art Magazine, Parachute and Flash Art International. Rechico has been long active in the Toronto Arts community through her involvement with Open Studio, Mercer Union and as the co-founder and past-president of the Red Head Gallery.

Returning Gardens
The returning gardens are The Unnatural Garden and The Wrecker’s Rockery (Gene Threndyle,1995, 1996), Curious Yellow (Glenn Beech and Kai Chan, 1999), Planting a Birdhouse (Linda Irvine, Dan Nuttall and Frank Infante, 1999), Return from Nature (Bob Wilkie, 1999), Swamped (Brad Copping and Sue Rankin, 2000), Larry’s Weave (David H. Kaye, 2000), Changing Channels (Janet Morton, 2000), Container Garden (Susie Osler, 2000), Fancy Plants (Sarah Quinton and John Armstrong, 2000), Eden Vulgaris (Lily Yung, 2000), An Evening in the Russian Hanging Garden (Sean Breaugh, 2001), Green Man Mummers (Brad Harley and Anne Barber for Shadowland Theatre, 2001), Play (Shawn Kerwin, 2001), Curtain Call (David Rayfield and Edward Kotanen, 2001), You Can Lead a Horticulture (Soulpepper Theatre Company, 2001), Raked: A Garden for Harbourfront (Jeannie Thib and Bruce Holland, 2001), Toronto Island Construction Site (Michael Davey and Delwyn Higgens, 2002), Whirligig Garden (Libby Hague, 2002), Ode (Anne O’Callaghan, 2003) and Play and delight, the possibilities are boundless (Ted Rettig, 2003).

Artists’ Gardens are made possible through the generous assistance of Sheridan Nurseries Limited and the Ontario Arts Council.
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Media Contact: Linda Liontis, 416-973-4381, lliontis@harbourfrontcentre.com
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