Poetry by chance, one line at a time – is the very apt description given to a special project involving words, cloth and thread tucked away in a gallery space in the Adelaide Hills town of Lobethal. Called ‘Gardens of the Heart’ this exhibition curated by India Flint and friends is on display at the old Woollen Mill as part of the Adelaide Fringe 2019. The last days of the exhibition are this Friday 15 March to Sunday 17 March from 11am – 4pm. Unlike any other exhibition I’ve seen, this is a beautiful collaboration of thoughts and words from kindred spirits around the world and it’s absolutely stunning.
Poets and fabric artists from around the world have contributed to make ‘Gardens of the Heart’ a unique and moving exhibition in one of the mill buildings which is now home to Fabrik arts and heritage. The setting provides a beautiful juxtaposition of hard, solid brick industrial buildings to this soft and gentle installation.
The gallery room used for the installation has been made to feel as if you could be walking into a magical summer garden, strung with fairy lights with greenery suspended from the ceiling, in between string lines holding squares of pegged fabric. Each square has been carefully put together to create poems out of three strips of differing fabrics.
The exhibition is so richly layered and is a real credit to the curator India Flint. Each one of the 100s of participants was invited to compose and stitch either a first, middle or closing line of text to then be pieced together to create a poem. Nobody knew what anybody else had composed and each line of words had to be sewn onto a piece of fabric chosen by the participant because of its meaning to them.
The words like the fabric have been magically woven together to create poems. Written on the walls around the exhibition space are words from some of the participants on why they chose the particular piece of fabric they did.
‘From my mother’s bed linen…she passed away last year’.
‘The silk was dyed with iron my son collected for his blacksmithing, rose petals from the flowers my husband grows and eucalyptus leaves from my neighbourhood’.
‘I like to think it retains the memory of a young bride in the summer of 1958 – her hopes, dreams & happiness…that bride was my mother and I lost her to cancer in 2002. It was with some trepidation that I took a pair of scissors to that beautifully made and stored silk wedding dress’.
‘A shirt of my daughter’s, she passed away four years ago, she loved poetry’.
These words alone were so touching even before you start reading the poems. There is something very special about this installation that has drawn beautiful words and emotions from all around the world to be stitched into this gorgeous display. I couldn’t help thinking of a line from a song as I was wandering around the exhibition…’From little things, big things grow’.
If you can I would urge everyone to make the trip up to Lobethal while there is still a chance to see and experience this installation before it is over. It would be lovely to think that this could become a book of art and poetry one day so that it can be enjoyed by so many more for so much longer.
Congratulations to India Flint and the Hills Art group h.ART for sharing this wonderful idea. I’ll leave you with just one of the lines of poetry I took away with me…’Imagine a field of wild hearts’.