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Gravity Field by Terrain Work at Jardins de Métis

Even turned upside down, flowers find their way toward the sun. Conceived as part of Quebec’s renowned Jardins de Métis, Gravity Field imbues an inventive landscape folly with an artistic paean to the resilience of nature and the possibilities of adaptation. Designed by New York–based Terrain Work, the installation comprises a cloud of 171 sunflowers that appear to float just above the ground. Initially grown upside down, the plantings eventually curved toward the light, seemingly defying the laws of physics.

A look at Gravity Field by Terrain Work at Jardins de Métis before the sunflowers grew
I appreciate the interesting approaches this project takes as well as its educational aspects
Lawrence Scarpa, AZ Awards Juror 2023

Constructed over a four-day period on a 162-squaremetre plot using repurposed wood, a trellis supports these unique planters, which were themselves adapted from off-the-shelf outdoor lighting fixtures. With this simple kit of parts — and a budget of just US$15,000 — Terrain Work collaborated with botanical garden staff to devise efficient planting and watering methods to minimize the loss of soil and protect the root structures. Intended to remain on display for a period of three years, the ethereal structure gains a ruggedness befitting its hardy flowers through the use of simple yet durable materials and fabrication techniques.

But the sunflowers are the real star of the show. The early-blooming varietal Helianthus annuus Sonja was carefully chosen for its colourful bloom and heliotropic quality — and also for its exceptional robustness. Even so, the installation was an experiment; the design team didn’t have the opportunity to test growing inverted sunflowers before Gravity Field was constructed. Would it work? It took the tiny plants only a few days to begin their journey to the sun. They continued to grow, and they finally bloomed upright. It makes for an innovative design that combines ecology with storytelling, art and affect. In the unlikeliest of circumstances, life persists — and thrives.

Team: Theodore Hoerr with Kelly Watters and Rebecca Shen

Winner: Temporary and Experiential Installations
Gravity Field

Conceived for Quebec’s Jardins de Métis, Gravity Field imbues an inventive landscape folly with an artistic paean to the resilience of nature.

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