Wednesday, 26 October 2011

More Gnomes

Hundertwasser had a surprising amount to say about 'Garden Dwarves'. Maybe not so surprising in the context of his gnomic vision of a world where human dwellings blended seamlessly into the organic landscape. Gardens traditionally contain art that evokes the presence of nature spirits- perhaps our subtle intuition of such presences goads us into making images of them...

"My theory is that the garden dwarf is a mind of god, the god of very ancient times which was destroyed - maybe even destroyed by our monotheism. He personifies the bad conscience of man towards nature. When people feel they wrong nature they place this garden dwarf as an excuse. He is small because grass and flowers are small, so he is smaller and can talk better to the snails and the rabbits and the animals who are generally small - as we can no longer do. He is always there, in the sun, in the rain."

Perhaps. Grass and flowers are not always small. The tallest tree in the world, named Hyperion by those who discovered it, is a redwood, Sequoia sempervirens. It is growing on the Californian coast and currently measures just over 115m. Douglas firs of 15m grow as epiphytes on its branches. What manner of garden dwarf would we need to construct to talk to this creature on our behalf?

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

The Garden Dwarf

The absence of kitsch makes our lives unbearable.
We can't manage without romanticism.
The garden gnome symbolizes our right to dreams and our yearning for a fairer, better world.
The garden gnome is a bulwark against the soulless, nihilistic dictates of our times. Just as we hunt Dracula with garlic and crucifixes, so we use the garden gnome to drive out sterile, tyrannical dogma.
Aggressive rationalists and passive dreamers of a better, more beautiful existence part company at the garden gnome.
Long before the christian world picture, long before the gods of the ancient romans and egyptians, long before history was ever recorded, we were able to talk to the birds, the animals, the plants and the trees, indeed even to water, rocks and clouds, and communication brought harmony.
Thus it is written in fairy tales.
The garden gnome, together with the elves, pixies, gnomes, giants and the whole host of magical beings, is a last survivor from that distant past.
Man lives by virtue of his identity, by virtue of his memory of the roots of his being. We may now be very "intelligent", but we have forgotten the language of nature.
Hence the small gnome in the garden.
You talk to the grass and the birds for me,
I no longer know how.
And ask nature forgiveness for the evil we do her,
And help me against the cold, all-powerful enemy.
I no longer know how.

Hundertwasser        April 1990