Organizers of an international plant sculpture exhibition in Montreal in 2013 have invited Atlantans to participate, but officials at the Atlanta Botanical Garden said economic difficulties hamper their involvement in global projects.
Partnering with international botanical gardens, parks departments and corporations, Mosaiculture International of Montreal has organized exhibitions of herbal artwork since 2000.
The pieces, some of them more than 30 feet tall, consist of a wire mesh covered with living plants and connected to irrigation systems. They often depict iconic scenes from the producer’s culture and can range from two-dimensional pictures to recreations of statues or buildings.
The event’s managers hope the 2013 event will feature participants from 50 civic or state governments and public institutions, including Atlanta.
Mary Pat Matheson, executive director of the Atlanta Botanical Garden, told GlobalAtlanta that she hopes to partner with Mosaiculture in the future, though currently there are no plans to participate in the Montreal exhibition.
She added that major international exhibitions are impossible for organizations such as hers to put on without outside partners.
“We can only do them with sponsorships from generous corporations, but the economy is making it tough for all of us,” Ms. Matheson said.
The Atlanta Botanical Garden has hosted international showcases in the past, always with support from the business community.
A display of British sculptor Henry Moore’s work set amid the botanical garden’s outdoor plants sponsored by Atlanta’s United Parcel Service Inc. drew 172,000 people between May and September 2009.
A similar exhibition of Dale Chihuly’s sculptures sponsored by Minneapolis-based Target Corp. brought observers from London’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and about 425,000 visitors between May and December 2004.
The Mosaiculture exhibition is on an even grander scale.
François Gravel, Mosaiculture’s project manager, said that plans for the herbal sculptures have been in the works for about a year and a half and will take six months to build.
The most recent exhibition in Hamamatsu, Japan, in 2009 displayed 91 pieces from 25 countries and drew 865,000 visitors in about two months. Companies around the world have participated in past events both by sponsoring the event itself and submitting sculptures to the exhibit.
The festival’s top honor, the Grand Honorary Award, went to a piece put together by the city government of Montreal titled “The Man Who Planted Trees.”
The display features a kneeling human figure complete with vest, cloak and hat simulating a tree-planting with a sheepdog and green sheep in the background. The only non-plant elements of the piece are the man’s staff and the sheep’s legs and ears, which consist of wooden additions.
A three-dimensional entry recognized with an Honorary Award sponsored by Beijing’s municipal government called “The Shared Homeland” shows deer grazing in front of a brick wall surrounding a pagoda.
The highest-rated corporate submission was a sculpture from Japan’s Morishita Construction Corp. titled “World Peace.” An arboreal reconstruction of the 31-feet-tall Nagasaki Peace Statue dedicated to victims of the 1945 atomic bomb attack on the city, the piece won an Excellence Award in the three-dimensional category.
Mosaiculture was the brainchild of Lise Cormier, now the company’s executive vice president and general manager. She began putting together the first showcase of herbal artwork in 1995 while working as Montreal’s parks director, after being impressed by the ice sculptures at the International Ice and Snow Festival in Harbin, China.
Ms. Cormier contacted colleagues in Paris and Geneva asking if they would participate in an international plant sculpture exhibition and found immediate support for the idea.
The inaugural Mosaiculture International exhibition opened in Montreal in 2000, drawing submissions from more than 30 organizations and corporations in 14 countries.
The exhibition was held in Montreal again in 2003 and moved to Shanghai in 2006, where it drew about 1 million visitors.
In addition to its major international exhibitions, Mosaiculture has organized smaller displays such as one in Las Vegas’ Bellagio Hotel and Casino in 2004. The company also installed permanent ivy-covered arches inside New York’s One Bryant Place skyscraper in 2009.
Since 2002 Mosaiculture has operated as a public corporation and is governed by an international committee including members from Belgium, Canada, China, Greece, France, Italy, Japan, Switzerland and the U.S.