Let’s Pretend We’re from Nature, with Reportage from the Human World: Bloom, powder blossom, dust and green, Lady Adventurer, flowers and questions

Alex Hetherington

“Mimosa yellow, aureolin, mars orange, persimmon orange, shrimp red, scarlet, current red, shell pink, Persian rose…White Dream. Ivory Queen. Unsurpassable. Texas Gold. Bronze Beauty. Orange Princess. Rococo.” Colours and Flowers from Ivan Morison’s garden, spring 2002. The Garden 114 project.

"Keep making things with whatever you have." Derek Jarman

“flowers undermine conventional distinctions between high and low art” Nancy Spector

Visual and performance artist, curator and facilitator Sara Sinclair specializes in the cultivated moment. Culturally reflective, she inhabits a spectrum of activity that merges social horticulture, sensitive happening paradises, art unfixed of constructs, addictions and misapprehensions, restive embraces of making, showing, sharing, socializing, astutely wrought on present affairs and current preoccupations: prizes, institutions, competitions, sports, social media devices, art galas and pavilions. She has a history of event-based dialogues, with suburban aesthetics and garden party ecologies, and within a simplicity and modesty of assumption and presentation, catalyses and materializes new collective capabilities. Her teasing, satirical and crafty Biennale schemes, sited around garden, greenhouse and gallery shed, wilfully stage a potent undermining of status and façade, replaced with a circumstances of domesticity, immediacy, therapy and chance. Within this repertoire, which celebrates the mundane and the banal, combines the evocative, commanding, the subtle and imperceptible while lampooning the serious machines and obstinate traditions of the art world, is a genuine expression of and delight in a more natural encounter and reading of art and its cultural and creative impulses.

This essay, a summary really of notes, observations and thoughts, is assembled like Sinclair’s process: a collage of incidences, events, artists and coincidences, drawn together round flowers, gardens, public and private spaces, stimulated by an informal chat at Sinclair’s garden gallery, April 2012. These notes should include thoughts on Untitled (Flowers), 1997-1998, 111 inkjet prints of double exposed images of flowers in bloom and decay by Fischli/Weiss, an abundance of visual impurities and chance encounters, an allegory for collaboration, shot in a suburban rose garden and public park in Zurich, and the sign that conduits high and low art, deliberate, delicate, decorative. They should also include a mention of filmmaker and artist Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage, in Dungeness, a garden of miracles, of the barren shingles, harsh sea air, and nuclear power stations. And in its making, toil and tenacity seeks to say something about passion and flow, which are some of the things that artists consistency reveal about themselves. It would also mention Ivan and Heather Morison’s work with gardens and flowers, The Land of Cockaigne, 2007, myriads of cut flowers, based on “a medieval utopia where peasants no longer toiled for survival or filled the coffers of the feudal lords, but were unreservedly lavished with fantastical plenitude” quoting art critic Sally O’Reilly, and an examination of commerce, socializing and desire; and to Printed Cards from Garden 114, 2001-2004, which describes the colours in Morison’s allotment garden, its flowers and seasonal choices, his horticultural failings, errors and trials, and how to engage nature in the processes of conceptual art, within its inherent Sisyphean outcomes and contingencies. And finally Dusseldorf-London-based artists’ collective Hobbypopmuseum’s Raving Garden, 2010, a potent site-specific installation, fusing painting with sound, performance and film, antagonism and sincerity, romantic optimism with faux-naivety, a “fight for ideas” in a theatrical painterly garden disco.

The notes would also include these terms because they seem to resonate throughout Sinclair’s practice and activities, and to broader cultures of making and showing in Scotland in 2012: “simple but kind of magical”, “you know him from Facebook”, “today, the things that come to hand”, “which is eerie and weird” and “I am excited to see it all.”

Back Garden Biennale is a lithe synopsis of Sinclair’s imaginative process, a story about adventures at the bottom of the garden, a party with self-effacing tendencies that surprises with what can be made and brought together, an education of socialising, interacting, experiencing: a cultivated sensory collage with immediate and long-lasting effects.

http://www.a-n.co.uk/interface/reviews/single/2273420