In my post of highlights from this year’s Floriade Expo, I shared a teaser of a bird detail from Lian de Gier’s wonder-full mosaic on display in the Green House. If you didn’t see the peacock for lack of a tail, at least you had an excuse, not being in front of the whole 5m x 2.5m mosaic.
The artist has explained that this is a tidy peacock who doesn’t like to see mess in nature, and recycles discarded items amongst his feathers to make himself more beautiful. His finds include a necklace of ring pulls from cans of pop, a key, toothbrush, syringe, clothes peg, wine bottle cork, dice, button and spoon.
Not content with my sins against ornithology, I also mistook the clay petals the mosaic is made from for pebbles. But I knew little about the story behind the mosaic until researching it afterwards with the help of Google Translate.
Moving in closer to any part of the design reveals sweet details.
I’d have loved the chance to talk through the installation with Lian de Gier as I’m sure every element has its own story. Dutch speakers might enjoy this YouTube clip:
Even without explanation, the mosaic provides rich food for dreamers.
I’ve noticed before when talking to creative people that story woven into art intensifies when the process is painstaking and lengthy. And making the clay petals is ‘monks’ work’, according to the artist. She made the clay from wood flour that came from trees felled in Almere during the construction of the expo. Each clay petal is handpainted and many are patterned or decorated.
I mentioned the idea of collaborative, polder model of politics in my earlier post and it struck me that this could be called Polder Art. Almere residents and people who saw the some of the mosaic’s panels being made at events and festivals were encouraged to paint at least one of the clay petals and to add decoration, if they wished. Some people’s drawings were incorporated as elements of the design. As the artist explains:
“With or without a disability, young or old, creative or not, it doesn’t matter: your contribution contributes to a more beautiful whole.”
The project was briefly put on hold during Covid-19 lockdowns and at one stage the mosaic was shut away in the Town Hall, out of reach of the artist. How frustrating that must have been! Following the instinct many of us had to mark the times, she did not try to cover over signs of the work being interrupted but left it as it was, ‘because it shows the zeitgeist.’
The artwork is modular, assembled from panels, and even my widest shot doesn’t show it entirely. Its central figure, with a half white, half black face, represents a welcoming, multicultural society, while tulips are the national flower of The Netherlands.
De Droomtuin has a child-like joy and so much that nature lovers can relate to: trees, hearts, butterflies, birds, fish and flowers of all types, even in the sky. As an invocation to happiness, it worked its magic on me.
De Droomtuin will be on display in the Green House at Floriade Expo in Almere, NL until 9th October 2022.