hundreds + thousands
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|poetry in the landscape / writing on leaves / numbered leaves / words on leaves / words and landscape/
numbering every leaf on a tree /
surrey art gallery bc canada
The gallery feels like itís been swept, like a wind has poured through it and rearranged all the contents. Only ten small bowls are left on the main table. All the rest -- all 590 of them -- have been filled. Theyíve been placed everywhere, every shelf and table brims. Three of the large ďservingĒ bowls are empty, the rest a quarter full.
I know what to do, now. Itís taken me eight weeks of this process to understand how this works. Itís like anything unfamiliar: at first thereís resistance, confusion, even blindness: an inability to see whatís right in front of you. Then, if you donít throw up your hands and run from the chaos, it begins to make sense. Patterns emerge. The mind slowly comprehends, then rallies, joins, finds its course.
Iíve never put together a show with this many interactions. The amount and depth of activity constantly surprises me. Itís not my show anymore, itís something else: a revelry, an unexpected collaboration, bacchanalia. Everyone adds something, even if itís just a single leaf among thousands. But most people add more than that.
I find seedpods and petals cupped together, bouquets on the walls as well as in the bowls. Iíll find a clutch of leaves arranged into a fan, a face or a spiral. Leaves are pinned on doors, down the halls, onto tables and chairs and the sides of plinths.
And the movement! The cycling and recycling. Berries from the serving bowls migrate into the small bowls, then theyíre pinned into a red stream across the wall. Somebody placed money into
a bowl. The next week someone else took it away. In early November, three Remembrance Day poppies were added. People write notes and poems and prayers, they put up doodles and drawings. Thereís an elastic band, a written worry, a coloured cellophane twist, two fortune cookie proverbs, a candy.
It feels like thereís been a party, a feast. The gallery-goers have had a good time. Theyíve stuck their hands deep into this project and had leaves drip off their fingers. My role is to pick up the pieces, re-fill the large bowls, recycle the overflow. I clean up, then add fuel to the fire. I open up the spaces, move some things to the sides, make the place ready for more people to enjoy. Iíve figured out my role and can now wear it, enjoy it. Iíve learned to take it easy; to not insist or push. To let go of control, explore, read the notes people have left and take pleasure in whatís happened while Iíve been away.
If this installation had lasted only three weeks I wouldnít have come to this state of understanding. Iíd have known what I wanted, but would have felt lost, as if I hadnít found the way there. Time, tending, commitment, persistence -- following ones hopes -- really works. As Lao Tsu said, (and said at least a thousand times) ďperseverance furthers.Ē