Roget's Circular

JUST*ICE? SMH LIFE AND DEATH SHOW Greg Leong ROGET'S CIRCULAR Sean PayneCarmel Bird Sharon Pittaway Deborah Malor Simon Longstaff Helen Rayment BEWARE OF PEDESTRIANS Roger Palmer Carmel Bird Michael Buckley


GARDEN: Helen Rayment

Lisa Roberts and Melissa Smith have woven and worked, dug and planted, fertilised, nurtured and harvested the idea of the garden. The landscape as both tamed garden and wilderness is the backbone to Roget,s Circular and the Six Categories of Meaning, it is a setting for their narrative. The garden is a physical and metaphorical place that the artists return to, while travelling, while working, while writing and by extension, while exploring their own identity.

My dear Old man, let me tell you about the garden

The idea of family is explored with nurturing metaphors around and about the garden. The garden was a place of intimacy between Lisa Robert's great grandmother and her husband. When he was overseas, she would write to him about the seasonal changes in the garden to remind him of his family and of his home. It was a thread of intimacy they shared, a smugness in knowing what delights between two old friends. Melissa Smith writes about educating her daughter - the garden of knowledge and seeds of wisdom. Tending out the weeds and allowing the chosen plants to flourish.

Working at the garden beside his grave. A nephew buried there, and, as it is a corner of the little graveyard, we have a garden running around the side.

Gardens are celebrations of life and death - parks and gardens for the living, memorials for the dead. Gardens, both public and private have offered opportunities for solace, privacy and recreation. They are a spiritual, metaphorical and geographical refuge from the outside world. A place for the comforts of the mind within the back - breaking realities of nature, the richest gardens live in the imagination.

Another layer to Roget's Circular is Lisa Roberts' film of her great grandfather's grave. It captures the overgrown landscape that was a garden, around the grave tendered by her step great grandmother. This confronts the artist's own issues of family. Her step great grandmother's tending of her great grandfather's grave recalls how they intimately touched each other's lives.

Weed. A weed is simply something considered undesirable in the garden.

There are places in the garden we don't want to go, jobs we do not wish to perform. Landscape has strength and presence and the garden has memory. A plant that appeared dead may reseed.

Garden - Secret mystery, enigma, puzzle, cross word, maze
Garden - Omen, Portent, presage, augury, auspice, sign

As an intrinsic part of nature, gardens have been well represented in the history of art. A stage for a narrative or a documentary of one's wealth, gardens have always been well recorded by artists: - estate homes, the sweeping vistas of new towns emerging, to the intimacy of the family at play or social interaction in the garden. Female artists have traditionally focused on the intimacy of the garden, the family, self and fecundity. Historically, the care of the garden has been considered an appropriate occupation for women, a natural compliment to the care of the home and family. The conscious delicate construction of Roget's Circular makes reference to the historical place of women in the garden - nature and nurture.

December 26 1999. We buried our hands in the dirt of our own garden, re establishing our place and looking forward to seeing things grow.

Lisa Roberts and Melissa Smith are separated by words, time and distance yet continue to return to their own private garden. The garden is a metaphor for the development of Roget's Circular; development and its growth. The artists are at home in their gardens of life and art - they are grounded by it.


Helen Rayment, Curator, Museum Victoria, Melbourne, 2000