Botanical Garden Dephi, Greece Tree Rings for Nine Muses
This project was unlike any other I have done in many respects. In preparing for my residency in Delphi, I decided to come with a few simple tools and an open mind. My goal was to meet people, get to know them, listen and form relationships. I also wanted to listen to the land, the special history of Delphi, feel the energy, and connect to the place. The experiences I had, the people I met, the conversations and cultural exchange all informed my concept and helped develop it to fruition. I am grateful for everyone who was part of the Delphic gathering, the rich archaeological sites, history of the land, people and myths.
As I wandered around the garden, getting to know the plants, trees, serpentine path and hillside environment, I observed irrigation tubing throughout the garden which of course provides essential water. I found some extra tubing bundled in a corner and thought this might be a material I could use, especially since it was a literal metaphor for the life-giving properties of water to the garden. I came up with the idea of creating circular rings out of the tubing. The circle is a simple, but powerful shape with many meanings across cultures, often a symbol of unity and wholeness; and I learned the ancient Greeks considered time to be circular. I counted 9 larger trees in the garden and decided this would be the number of rings, one for each tree and one for each muse. Thus, the title of the piece: Tree Rings for the Nine Muses, which also refers to the growth rings of trees evident in the cross section of the trunk.
I realized that the overall impact of the installation would take place through time and space as viewers moved through the garden. The repetition of finding and seeing the rings from different angles could offer a unifying element that brought the whole garden together, yet with a variety of size and color. The key was to have each ring respond to the particular site of each tree, playing with color that contrasted or complimented each location.
I consider my work to be a way of giving back and honoring the land. This idea is present in the Native American concept of reciprocity, and also relates to ancient Greek ideas about a balanced relationship with the earth. In this spirit, I offer “Tree Rings for the Nine Muses” to the Botanical Garden of Delphi.