And yet, but for these flowers by Vivian Cooper Smith
Posted by Beth Wilkinson on 4 May 2015
Last spring, Convent tenant and well-known Melbourne artist and photographer Vivian Cooper Smith wandered the streets of Carlton, documenting the glorious front gardens of individuals whom he had never met. He connected with the community in a unique way as he explored what these gardens meant to their owners and to the public.
“The importance of flowers within local communities is often overlooked, however it is clear they bring great joy to the many people who cultivate them as well as to those who are simply admirers,'' says Vivian. "They can be a show of pride in one’s home, an opportunity to feel akin to nature or a way to connect with neighbours.”
Chatting with Vivian, it became evident how this series is as much about community as it is about the gardens themselves. Listening to him talk about the individual characters he met and how they each had a different story to tell really illustrated the importance of these spring flowers within the neighbourhood. They were from different cultural backgrounds, different ages and had different ideas, and this was all reflected through this little patch of land. There was someone behind each garden and in a way, their garden tells their story. “Gardens are a way to show the community who you are – a public display of the pride you take in your home.”
Now, six months later, the flowers return to the community. “I always wanted the project to link back to the community. I want to be optimistic about the future and by engaging in these types of projects I can play my part.”
The works were commissioned through the City of Yarra’s Public Art Light Box Program and are now lighting up the walls of the Carlton Library. “The images were created specifically for this media. They are not designed to be hanging in a gallery. I wanted the colours to really catch the eye as you walk past – somewhat like the gardens themselves.”
With these three lightboxes we see cultural diversity explored, the community engaged and the story of a neighbourhood told. 'And yet, but for these flowers' will be on show until 30 June 2015.