Upon arrival at Ottawa airport, our friendly cab driver was raving about MosaïCanada 150, but I struggled to grasp what it was really about. The next day I wandered over the Ottawa River to see for myself and what I saw, blew me away! Wandering the one-kilometre garden path with other awestruck visitors, I witnessed a display of living sculptures immense in size and detail, representing Canadian culture. From Anne of Green Gables to the folklore of the First Nations people, thirty-three artworks represent Canada’s ten states and three territories. There are also contributions from Beijing and Shanghai, China which do not fail to impress. This exhibit of living sculptures celebrating the 150th anniversary of Canada’s confederation (in 2017) took $10-million, 100 gardeners and 3 million plants to create!
Don’t worry if you missed out though, the International Mosaïculture Committee run competitions every 2-3 years, keep an eye on their Event page for an opportunity to see magnificent living sculptures in the future.
UPDATE: The summer 2019 exhibit, Imaginary Worlds II, is now on at Atlanta Botanic Gardens until October 27. See more details on the Botanic Garden website.
What is mosaïculture?
Mosaïculture, as the art form is referred to in French, involves bedding plants into mosaic-like forms to represent two- and three-dimensional images. The technique is historically rooted in embroidered flower beds that composed Renaissance gardens and grew in popularity through the Victorian period. Though mosaïculture became unfashionable during the early 20th century it has made a recent return, evolving into ever more complexity and difficulty to execute.
Creating mosaïculture masterpieces
To create the kind of larger-than-life figures featured in MosaïCanada 150, steel frames are formed and covered with mesh. The mesh supports a heavy layer of moss and soil that is seeded with plants. Water is delivered to the flora through an underlying network of irrigation channels.
Creating a living sculpture involves the plant knowledge of a horticulturalist, colour theory of a painter and the understanding of structure and volume like a sculptor. Plants need to blossom in the right place, at the correct time to bring the sculptures to life. Annuals are used, as opposed to flowers, to ensure the sculptures are blossoming throughout the length of the exhibit. This is not an art form for the faint-hearted.
Enjoy a walk through MosaïCanada 150 and whet your appetite for seeing these incredible living sculptures in real life…