14th and 15th edition of the International Garden Festival, Grand-Métis, Québec.
« The installation offers and leads the visitor into a poetic fiction of the «sacred» side of garden and culinary heritage. »
Sacré potager is an installation exhibited at the 14th and 15th and 16th edition of the International Garden Festival, held in Grand-Métis, Québec in 2013, 2014 and 2016. In 2015, the installation was exposed at Musée des beaux-arts de Québec.
Sacré Potager was chosen by the jury for this international competition from among the 290 proposals submitted by more than 700 designers from 31 countries. Sacré Potager (literally, the sacred vegetable garden) evokes the sacred nature of plants and their special place in our world. For millennia, humans have raised monuments to worship the sacred. Over time, the notion of what is sacred has evolved. So too has our environment.
This garden displays a series of elegant and simple wooden altars. They evoke the roadside crosses that once dotted the Québec countryside. They also illustrate how many of us have turned to worship the environment in our own way. Within and beneath each altar you discover rare vegetables – made rare by modern agriculture that has transformed heritage plants and made them ever more exotic. The process of selection, production and marketing means that we are further and further from the roots of the plants that spawned them. Genetic engineering, multinational seed companies and the search for vegetables that are easily transported and not easily bruised has led to hybrids that are strong in colour, but often weak in taste and nutrients. This garden gives us a chance to explore our horticultural heritage and worship the plants and the biodiversity they represent.
This contemporary garden can be read on several levels: nutritional, medicinal and decorative. By drawing on the vegetable garden and evoking the world’s declining biodiversity, the installation is at once a place of enchantment and an opportunity to awaken the conscience of the viewer. Each of the 18 small chapel-like structures are dedicated to a single forgotten vegetable. Each of the varieties was chosen in collaboration with Seeds of Diversity, an NGO that collects and distributes heritage seeds in order to protect our genetic heritage. A different variety is planted at the base of each plywood chapel, ranging from generous plantings to single specimen plants.
Votive candles decorate each chapel, each one representing a forgotten vegetable. They are at once an invitation to the visitor to explore the garden and to make an offering to return these vegetables to our gardens and pantry. Each candle illuminates a hand-drawn illustration, reinforcing their iconic value and highlighting their importance. A text integrated into each candle describes the history of each plant and allows the viewer to explore their rich heritage.
The entire garden is a hymn to ecology and an invitation to safeguard the wonders of the natural world. The garden seeks to raise awareness and promote biodiversity. It is also an invitation for gardeners to return these ancient species to our gardens and grocery shelves.