The Garden of Love – or a ‘car-PARK’ – Steve Rosenthal (updated 2nd June)

May 28, 2011

Through the Skype session with our cross-continental counterparts a viable connection has begun to emerge between my chosen site – the I LOVE U, I LOVE U, I LOVE U tree here in London at Vallance Gardens (a shrine to love if ever there was one) and the shrine to the ‘hidden holy person’ (with two trees growing out of it) that Nida is working with in Lahore, and  it made me think of the poem The Garden of Love by William Blake (which I’ll insert below), and was probably written to express his beliefs on the naturalness of sexuality, and how religions  of his time (specifically the Orthodox Christian Church) with their preaching and rules (not much changes really), caused the repression of natural desires. A really brave statement to make for his time (and one which still carries resonance) to challenge the foundations of such a powerful institution, making specific attacks on the Anglican church with the mention of ‘chapel’ and ‘priests’. Blake’s indignation at his subject matter is clear, when he talks about seeing ‘what I had never seen’. It is interesting that he says he has ‘never’ seen it when he must have grown up being aware of the Church’s attitude to sexuality. It might then be inferred that he’s speaking from the view point of innocence, ie – one who has just entered the world of sexual experience and is in a state of shock and sadness at how his previous freedoms have been blocked and squashed…

I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen;
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.

And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
And ‘Thou shalt not’ writ over the door;
So I turned to the Garden of Love
That so many sweet flowers bore.

And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tombstones where flowers should be;
And Priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars my joys & desires.


(Update) I’ve also contacted the recently created City Arts Initiative at The Corporation of London regarding the car-park site at Whites Row (where the slice line runs diagonally through the entire length of the structure) to see if it might be possible, with their support and assistance, to collaboratively create a tiny, temporary, high-rise green oasis or park (a ‘car-PARK’) intervention, on the top-floor open-air level, in a bay (or bays) – with grass turf, a bench, maybe a deck-chair or two, and some potted trees etc with the city skyline as its backdrop…. I will wait to see if they a) like the proposal and b) can help me orchestrate the intervention…


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