Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Some arty barrels

While photographing an inner-city garden near Seattle waterfront, I came across a couple of cool installations by the intersection of Vine Street and Alaskan Way. Several crumpled, distressed-looking oil barrels were tied together on grey steel pallets. All barrels had the word PURGE neatly punched on, and billowy perennials - lavender, Gaura, Achillea, creeping thyme, daylilies, grasses - sprouted from their tops.

I couldn't find any signs or notes telling who made them and why. The Seattle Art Institute is housed in the buildings behind, so I suspect they could have something to do with them. Driving home, I contemplated the meaning of "purge" here. Could it mean elimination or removal, or getting rid of and cleaning up? As oil is usually stored in this kind of barrels, could the word refer to the power of oil - and to all it symbolizes - in our daily lives? And how we should be ditching it altogether and replacing it with green alternatives?

Whatever their intended meaning, I loved the plantings and the zink-colored barrels with their sculptural, soft buckles. Utilitarian in their origin, they suited well the half-industrial environment of the Seattle waterfront, making an earnest but humorous comment on our modern lifestyle. And if you know who made them, please let me know... I would love to hear more.


Gardener in the Distance said...

Quite a handsome installation, Liisa, in its lopsided way. It'd be nice if the whole street was full of them. You must be right about the meaning here ( of 'purge' ): plants have the power to ( eventually ) override the worst of mankind's mess.

The Intercontinental Gardener said...

You said it so well, Faisal! It really would have been great to have a long line of them, but even a couple was a fun surprise in that barren environment of the waterfront. I've always loved old zink planters, and these reminded of them, in a tougher way.

Sophia Callmer said...

Ursnyggt och lite oväntat! /Sophia