Why do I have a problem with conceptual art? Or could it be that it is just conceptual artists who bother me?
In principle, conceptual art can be great. Artists can have brilliant ideas that are original and thought provoking and make you appreciate life from a different perspective. My problem is with those artists who only ever seem to have one idea that they flog to death in countless variations; and with those artists who never get their hands dirty, leaving the practical realization of their idea to underlings.
Jennifer could never be accused of that; she gets her hands dirty, and how!
Jennifer’s current art-work is The Mediated Garden.
So, think of a garden as a work of art. Do you imagine a beautiful arrangement of trees and shrubs designed to please the eye or calm the troubled soul? Forget it. Jennifer doesn’t do pretty.
Think of a roof garden. Do you imagine Japanese minimalism to flatter the ego of the penthouse dweller? Forget it. Jennifer doesn’t do flattery.
Except she flatters me, perhaps, for I am one of an exclusive group of visitors whom she has led down her garden path.
Think the Blue Peter Garden and you are nearer the mark. Jennifer’s garden is a living paradox: it is a garden for everyone which hardly anyone can visit, except through the medium of the internet. So I was flattered to be taken high above the rooftops of Liverpool as a stiff breeze was ruffling the surface of the Mersey and a dramatic sky was framing the Welsh hills in the distance.
Jennifer’s garden is not a feast for the eye, her palette is not colour, her composition does not rely on form. I saw her as a Jackson Pollock of taste and smell as I meandered round an almost random arrangement of flavours and scents from the savoury richness of rosemary to the sharpness of oregano to the sweetness of chocolate mint. This appeals to me. In my own feeble interactions with horticulture I have always prized the scented and the edible.
In her miniature way she is a Turnip Townshend of the rooftops (indeed, there were baby turnips peeping from under their blanket of soil). Jennifer rotates her crops so that carrots follow potatoes and are themselves followed by herbs. But most important of all, Jennifer’s garden is interactive. Like all gardens her creation is organic: it is a growing, ever-changing life form that will constantly respond to its environment but also to the suggestions of its visitors. Very few of us will have the privilege of being led down the garden path by Jennifer just as few of us ever set foot in the Blue Peter Garden, but everyone can visit on the internet and perhaps we can leave our mark on this work of art.
For one, I will suggest she finds a corner for some garlic.