Babyland Creek by Lam Wong

Luminous Garden investigates the concept of the garden as a sanctuary for spiritual growth: a place to connect to nature and arouse enlightenment through contemplation and meditation. Gardens offer a profound environment for spiritual awakening. Sit quietly, for example, beside the sand and rock garden of Ryoan-ji, in Kyoto. The legendary American composer/artist John Cage was so inspired by the experience that he created an entire composition (Ryoan-ji, 1983-85) and a series of rock drawings dedicated to this Zen garden. The garden is sacred in that it allows us to immerse ourselves in nature, where one can realize truth, the Tao, the law of the universe.

For many years Glenn Lewis has traveled all over the world to photograph gardens. His interest in different traditions of garden design, gates, pathways, entrances and motifs informs and inspires his ceramic work, forming a dialogue between his pottery and his photography. Lam Wong has similarly long explored and photographed the phenomenon of “dancing light” in gardens and natural settings. Wong has sought to express the communion of peaceful mind and subtly shimmering sunlight–an experience of illuminated refection expressed in the single Japanese word komorebi.

Gardens are universal, but why do we actually create them? According to Glenn Lewis, gardens perhaps evoke a utopian ancestral memory of a time when we lived in caves, surrounded by primeval forests. Gardens allow us to put aside “the world of red dust” (our troubled and deluded minds) and become free and focused in the natural world. Gardens are humankind’s first home, our primeval place in nature. Like the mythical Garden of Eden, which houses both the tree of knowledge and the tree of enlightenment, gardens in their ceaselessly changing seasons remind us of life’s impermanence and the endless cycle of birth and death.

Whispering pines, swaying bamboos, weeping willows, a stone carpet floor, the dancing sunlight on a pond–such fleeting moments conjure up a secret message that can only be communicated through indescribable introspective discovery. This is the world of heart-stopping and thought-slowing transcendental time. We behold in silence as a single petal slowly sways and floats and lands on a mossy rock, only moments later to be washed away by rain. Such beauty has no name and can only be felt.

Luminous Garden aims to conjure up exactly this experience, allowing nature and spirit to enter our hearts and minds through awareness and introspection. The exhibition features a collection of garden photography by Glenn Lewis and Lam Wong, coupled with ceramic tea ware by Lewis that will be used in tea ceremonies and art performances Wong will conduct in the garden during the spring and summer. It is the third art exhibition organized and presented by Wong during his year-long artist residency at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.

Lam Wong | Curator and Artist | Artist in Residence Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden | 2020