After four and a half months spent at home during the pandemic, I had the opportunity to stay at a friend’s house for a week in Toronto. Since I’ve been nomadic for the last three years, I leapt at the chance to feel that sense of movement again. To reclaim the traveler within.
I did what I always do after arriving at a new place, I went for a walk with my camera.
As I walked down an empty alleyway half scanning to make sure I was safe, half feeling as though I was, I felt a magnetic pull towards a concrete wall. Then saw that there were plants growing right out of it. The plants snapped me out of my internal dialogue and I paid attention. Noticed. There they were, bursting right out of this human construct.
What did it take for those plants to arrive there? The earth that must be present in the cracks, the wind or water that landed the seed in just the right place where it could break through. Not only did these plants arrive there, they survived and thrived.
As I spent more time with the various different plants I felt their wild nature. Their power, palpable.
It made me wonder more about the meeting of city and nature. This wall, as walls are apt to do, contained, protected an area, separated. Sometimes those are necessary aspects of walls. Sometimes they are harmful. I started thinking of the harmful aspects not just of physical walls: the separation of people by race or gender or religion or anything really, the physical walls countries have built in the name of politics, the walls we build within our own minds and selves. The beliefs we carry as truths.
The destruction of nature.
The plants have occupied the wall. They put themselves somewhere they aren’t supposed to be, dug in their roots, and by that very nature created change. Something in the wall had to give to allow space. Something had to shift and a bit less separation became possible as a result.
Will these plants eventually break down the whole wall?
Will someone put up another or let it transform into rubble?
Breaking down is necessary.
Then I started to think of what we pave over. In the natural world and within ourselves. What parts of you are so constructed by another that you aren’t really sure of your true nature? Can you remember what it is? Before it was divided and developed? Contained?
What is the natural world that was once here? What did it look like? Does the imprint remain embedded within the city?
The plants presented themselves for these photos. It wasn’t until that night a thought arrived to share them in some way. Secretly, I’ve always wanted to offer a photo exhibit. I spent some time with each photo, feeling into the contrast of concrete and nature and seeing how even they aren’t separate. The plants wanted to become brighter, the concrete darker, to highlight even more of the conversation.
Each one is also available for purchase on Etsy until December 2020.