Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Cultivating a 'Heart Garden' for St Vincent's Hospital

As some of my readers will know I have been 'in residence' at Caritas Christi since May. This is the Palliative Care arm of St Vincent's Hospital and the quid-pro-quo of having the studio there is that we donate a work to the Hospital's art collection.  The various art programs and the art collection are part of what is known as the "Mission of St Vincent" - also referred to as the "Mission to the Heart".  In response to this idea I wanted to create a 'Heart Garden' as my donated art work and began work a few months ago.  When I shared this idea with the St Vincent's Hospital art curator, Monique Silk, she suggested it might be appropriate for the work to be installed in the soon to be opened St Vincent's Cardiac Centre - also known as the Heart Centre, which is housed in one of the fully restored Art Deco buildings on Victoria Parade in Fitzroy.  You can imagine my excitement.  

The art deco staircase and windows leading to the Heart Centre

 Fabulous lead-light doorways - with workmen still in situ
and below, wonderful tiling in the ground floor foyer

The first point of inspiration for making the Heart Garden comes from 2012 when I had the privilege of exhibiting in the project gallery at Heide Museum of Modern Art.  Heide has a famous 'Heart Garden' which Sunday Reed designed in the shape of a 'love heart' and planted in the garden at Heide I. 

 Sundays Heart Garden at Heide I and below 
Sunday in her rose garden 
(photos taken from Heide MoMA image search)

I envisaged my 'Heart Garden' to be in the shape of a human heart and so it is with absolute delight that something I dreamt of making over a year ago has not only come to fruition, but will find a permanent home in an important and beautiful medical centre.

My 'Heart Garden' is almost finished and so I want to share with you some of the steps along the way, including the fabulous St Vincent's Heart Centre building.

day 1 - pinning the outline
day 2 - the veins go on

 There are some special pieces in the Heart Garden which have been donated by friends or acquaintances from their own family collections - made by mothers, grand-mothers and aunties - including the beautiful tiger lilies which you can see in the aorta and other areas of the heart. I've chosen mostly vintage hand made needlework, from the 20's and 30's to give the heart a sense of time past.  There are exquisite fragments of embroidery and lace from Japan, China, Poland, Vietnam, Hungary and Australia.

the hand of the new maker working with the hand 
of the anonymous and departed makers

the work tables below - you can see how exquisite 
these vanishing materials are

the photo above gives a sense of scale
of my 'throbbing' Heart Garden - almost complete.

 (In 2007, the same year I began working solely with reclaimed needlework, 
my father died of heart failure - this work is also made in memory of him).


  1. I'm so glad you showed photos to give scale to your "Garden Heart". I was picturing it much smaller. It's glorious! If you do get to Banff I may have to see about flying there for a visit! (see last post for some links I added)

    1. Once again, thanks so much for taking the time to reply Carole! and will look at those links - you are kind. Lx

  2. This is so such a perfect response to your residency , your work is exquisite Lou!

    1. Thank you so much Mo - I've just checked out your work and it is exquisite - the glass work and the textiles. best wishes Louise x

  3. stunning - love your Heart....just beautiful and so poignant too...

  4. wow! stunning. thanks, Mo, for sending me here! "how exquisite these vanishing materials are" -- yes! and how exquisite your composition with them is!