An Urban Quest for Chlorophyll

An Urban Quest for Chlorophyll

edited by Jennifer Gilliam & Dieneke Jansen

featuring Mark Amery; Tanya Eccleston & Monique Redmond; Amanda Yates; Jenny Gillam & Deineke Jansen; Lara Strongman; Kate Linzey; Andrew Douglas; Sue Gallagher.

Rim Books, 2013, 80 pp., $30

Reviewed by Max Oettli for Landfall Review Online

1 November 2015


So let us browse on Chlorophyll – a refreshing compilation of garden and nature projects applied to the urban centres of a number of places. I am reminded of the New Zealand short-story writer A.P. Gaskell, my highschool English teacher in Hamilton half a century ago, intoning about that fine city’s ‘Garden Place, sprouting row upon row of parking metres’. Our public spaces, worldwide, seem to suffer sea changes, design-wise, about every decade or so. Recent projects in New York and some French cities have seen the ‘renaturation’ of seafronts and old elevated railway tracks. We could remark in passing that New Zealand cities and towns aren’t up there with Detroit or Birmingham or Shanghai as major urbanscapes, but that might be a pointless quibble. Indeed, one of the works in this book brings photos of suburban flowers into a rather bleak shopping mall as a slide-show.

The characteristic that I appreciate in the projects presented here is essentially their modesty; most are at the level of ‘bricolage’, using variations of Kiwi number-eight-wire technology; all are temporary and not designed to leave any trace, which in a country like most others, overloaded with bulky, corroding and usually godawful public art, is a relief of some sort. Mark Amery’s introductory text points out that all of the artworks are created by women, but he does not come to any strong conclusions about this, except to refer to their concern for a ‘concern for urban communities and the contemporary ecology of cities’. He also postulates that women might be better at working collaboratively.

Read full review at Landfall Review Online

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