They Are Beyond Mentioning
by George Patterson, Tofino
One of the ideas behind Tofino Botanical Gardens is that the garden
is an interface between culture and nature. This makes the garden an
ideal place to present art and we have made an effort over the past
four years to show a wide variety of work produced by local and not
so local artists. Sculpture has become one of our main focuses.
About a month ago, Meghan Barton, a recent graduate of Mount Alison
University in New Brunswick, approached me to see if we would be
interested in having an installation of a piece she had recently completed.
Barton’s sculpture “They Are Beyond Mentioning” has
been shown across Canada over the past six months, hung
in a disparate variety of venues. The sculpture has, literally, travelled
and performed its magic from coast to coast. Barton’s own words
describe some of the ideas behind her project, but also say much about
the meaning of sculpture in public places:
I associate plastic knives with nostalgic memories, and have developed
a rather abstract relationship wit them. There is an obsessive interest
I associate with their function in my life, and in our society.
The knives represent an accepted part of our world that can be paralleled
to a rather plastic reality, themes of consumption, and our throw
away culture. Through its identity as sculpture it is quite beautiful
graphic. It has the ability to transcend simple language, and it
is this familiarity that is so intrinsic to the piece.
The sculptures of the knives are each 27 lbs of paraffin wax, which
is very similar to the texture of plastic. They were poured into a
two part mold, with an internal skeleton of wire. They are each 5’9”,
the size of the average man, and mimic the proportions of an actual
I see a connection one can make with this simple utensil in a public
space. I feel the sculptures themselves are quite classical, and
their large scale will engage viewers. The mixing of shadows cast from
pace, the sculpture and the viewer dance together to create an interesting
energy. They could travel across the country, hang in restaurants,
public libraries, shopping malls, office spaces, and bus stations.
As this work has developed I am slowly realizing the interaction
of the viewers is as much the art piece as the sculpture itself. The
that people can interact with something they recognize, but question
at the same time will create a sort of performance.
The documentation of this work will be crucial to the final stage
of the piece. With the use of black and white, and colour photography
along with video documentation, audio journals, and endless sketches
and text entries I hope to document the response s of an unknowing
audience, while also poking fun at my own egocentric need to present
my work and the growing theory that I am a tourist within my own
I am also enjoying watching people engage the sculpture. They look,
touch and smell; squint to see the light passing through the wax,
caress them to feel and understand the smoothness of the wax. An affection
and respect develops in the viewer for the simple familiar form.
are humourous, poignant, unpretentious, dignified, friendly, perplexing
and, ultimately, transcendent. That is, they are very good art. Barton
was pleased with the reception the knives have received at tbg and
has kindly decided to leave them here. They were her traveling companions
on a six month odyssey across Canada, had become good friends and
leaving them behind was not an easy thing.
Fortunately, Meghan Barton will be returning to be Artist in Residence
at Tofino Botanical Gardens in October. Her time here will be dedicated
to creating landscape sculpture and connecting to the local art community.
Tofino art installation: George Patterson of Tofino Botanical Gardens writes about Meghan Barton's sculpture of giant plastic knives in Tofino.