At nearly 15 metres high, “Mother Earth” is another of the spectacular plant sculptures on display at the Jardin Botanique de Montreal as part of the Mosaicultures Internationales 2013 Exhibition. These photographs were taken in June after a late spring, and consequently the bedding plants inserted on the surface of the sculpture had not yet grown to their full extent. Once the plants are full size, they would conceal all the ‘joins’ in the membrane that covers the sculptures and render a smooth, even surface. The flowers when in full bloom would also add the right effect. In fact, as the plants grow through the season, constant maintenance is required – dead-heading the flowers and trimming back excess foliage.
This particular tableau about Mother Earth, as she is named by North America’s First Nations, is based on excerpts of Chief Seattle’s speech to the then President of the United States Franklin Pierce in 1854 on the occasion of the sale of native land to white settlers. [In other countries and mythologies Mother Earth is variously known as Pacha Mama, Gaia, Terra Mater, Mahimata, and Eorban Modor].
I quote these excerpts from the sign adjacent to the tableau:
The white man must treat the beasts of this land as his brothers.
We are part of the Earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters, the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the juices in the meadows, the body heat of the pony, and man, all belong to the same family.
The shining water that moves in streams and rivers is not just water but the blood of our ancestors.
The water’s murmur is the voice of my father’s father.
The air is precious to the red man, for all things share the same breath – the beast, the tree, man, they all share the same breath.
What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of the spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man.
Preserve the memory of this earth as (we) deliver it. And with all your strength, your spirit and your heart, preserve it for your children and love it as God loves us all.
COPYRIGHT JESSICA WINDER 2013
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