January has brought some bright blue-sky days, with strong sunlight casting shadows on the snow. These dark lines are a common winter sight in Quebec, and in my garden Glen Villa, in Quebec’s Eastern Townships.
Usually, these shadows are simply a visual echo of the real thing, but occasionally they appear more substantial than the object itself. A bench with an open-work seat becomes solid in its shadow.
Shadows offer opportunities in garden design that few of us take full advantage of. An ordinary sight can become mysterious when it is patterned with shadows.
Shadows can create many different moods and responses. They can be inviting, or repellant, or downright scary.
They can even be amusing, or at least more interesting than the thing itself.
Shadows are a crucial part of In Transit/En Route, an art installation I created in 2011. (It’s an artwork to be experienced rather than explained, but if you want to know more, you can read about it here, and here, and here.) A path leads to a clearing in the woods where the shadow of a dead tree marks the hour. In summer the shadow’s mark is accurate. Not in winter, though — shadows ignore Daylight Savings Time.
The idea of a shadow is integral to Tree Rings, my most recent sculpture. The tree that was, is no more. But its shadow remains, both literally and figuratively.
Three words laser-cut into the stainless steel rings make this idea explicit.
Shadows aren’t substantial. They don’t last, they come and go with the sun. But while they aren’t always present, they still can have a lasting effect.
Do shadows play a part in your garden? Have you used them deliberately or are their effects accidental?