Louise Tate's garden
September 16, 2019
I am so glad that you will be collaborating with me for this September issue for fLoromancy! … What I wanted for this month's issue as a contributor was for each post to feel gentle, inviting, accessible, and emotive. I also wanted to make sure I create a different kind of narrative around the idea of making, generating meaning... hence it was important for me to include my mother-in-law's story and her garden as an anchor. Her identity as a non-artist, immigrant, refugee, widow, and invisible worker was important for me to include in this online journal platform.
And I thought including the works of both Anne Truitt and you would be wonderful. Both of you are beautiful painters and have deep love for writing. Your conceptual and aesthetic relationship to land, gardens, matriarchy, and colors I thought was worthy of noting. And I just can't wait to see how you interpret with my proposal to consider this.
September 21, 2019
Here are some texts and images. I have drawn from some writing I did while in New York, which seems pertinent as that's where we met and also where I painted these works. Reading back through my journals I found repeated references to gardens (both fictional and remembered), seeking a sense of self, and finding maternal connections to the land. I emailed my mother while in New York to ask her about her own experiences as an avid gardener during my childhood, to which she replied that she saw her garden as a living painting.
I planted a garden for myself
Not of flowers but of memories
A vegetable palace for all my love.
These gardener’s hands are dirty from
Many years of backwards thinking
These arms are heavy with
The weight of feeling.
Like a woman warrior
This heart—sticky like
Honey—this heart, is
Mineralised and strong.
What is there to say in the face of the unspeakable? Where can we linger, in a garden of no time?
The voice of my grandmother floats through water to reach me from a stone basin that’s full to overflowing; that rushes like my words—like my hasty hands—to greet you.
I am reliving my life again and again, to recreate a sense of self without making those same mistakes. Of not speaking up when a man noses his way into the cracks of myself, just to say “too feminine,” as if to say “too weak.”
What is weak is to wallow, to be hollow from a lack thought or care.
To garden is to care for my soul.
There is no stillness except for the mornings when, waking up, clouds are grey and bodies are slow yet limber
the day is yet to come
the rain is yet to come
And my mind is soft
not yet frightened
not yet full of questions
Relishing this stillness, I find nostalgia for another time
a time when I was more alone,
when I thought about stillness more
as I do now.
Being alone being together being with many
These are some of the many terrains our bodies traverse throughout a day
When this delicate balance loses its balance
The body aches; a reminder to be kind
To oneself to another to a lover.
But being present is hard when there is so much to be present for—another reason why being alone is easier. The quiet that envelops my body as I sit here, alone, is thick and delicious. I am surrounded by plants, a garden for my thoughts. A garden in a city of broken concrete.
Many things have been gained and lost while here
A tally cannot justifiably document a journey
I am grateful and sad and full of wonder
I feel more for myself and of my life.
There is much more to be grasped
more stillness to search for more space.