These two paintings are based on my love for gardening. For a period of about five years I spent about four hours every morning planting trees, shrubs, and flowers with the help of gardeners. I read gardening books and went to nurseries. I felt like the creator of a different kind of art, painting with plants and soil as my canvas instead of using paint brushes, paint, and cloth canvas.
The work started when we had just moved to our farm which had a very large garden. When I started this task of painting with plants, the huge plot had only four trees. The hillsides were baren for miles around, deforestation in the area was complete. There were no branches where birds could sit in the shade and there was no birdsong. All was quiet and the whole area was covered in hard yellow clay.
When I first saw this piece of land that we had bought in the middle of nowhere with not even a paved road, water or electrical facilities, I was discouraged. I knew the task ahead of me was a very time-consuming one. Nevertheless, I went ahead, planned and designed what was to become a natural forest with space to grow farm produce.
Aside from flowers, we planted many different types of fruit trees, wheat, and vegetables. One year we even tried to grow rice( this failed).
These paintings represent the work I was doing at that time. I had planted all the plants that are depicted and they were starting to grow. You can notice that the plants in the paintings are very different from one another. The texture of the leaves and the colours are diverse and varied. It is as if I have placed a small part of my garden on the painted canvas. The atmosphere in the paintings is meant to be very peaceful, just as it was in my garden, a pleasure for the eyes. Birds were starting to show interest in the foliage. Eventually the trees grew, birds now play and sing in them, monkeys eat our fruits and flowers – we get none! The ground is covered with leaves that cover our ankles. Peacocks call and dance, only God now paints this garden. I paint and walk in this garden while the family plays, fights, and grumbles there, taking it all for granted. That is the total picture.
My mother, who is a tapestry weaver, really liked this painting. She made a beautiful tapestry based on it that is just the same size as the original. It is included here.