David Wills


Spreads from Bonnae Gokson's book

The Garden of Time

If there’s one thing I love it’s writing about art. I was commissioned by Samantha Ferris to write an essay and promotional material for The Garden of Time, a travelling exhibition taking seed in Rotterdam and spreading to Venice and Sydney later in 2024. You can read the essay on Samantha’s site and the promotional text below.

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As the world implodes, six diverse artists — three each from Australia and the Netherlands — present jewel-like works in The Garden of Time, a touring exhibition taking its title from J.G. Ballard’s nostalgic short story of impending doom and the appreciation of beauty as time runs out and a new age unfurls.

Sprouting this April in Venice, a city of exquisite charm, and itself overun by mass tourism, The Garden of Time offers momentary respite as these six contrasting artists tease-out overlaps and distinctions between the two countries. It transports the viewer from the peace of remote Western Australia to the din of urban cities, even to the outer reaches of space where our grip on time is even more unfathomable than here on earth.

This Venice showing offers the viewer respite from the world outside. Here, viewers can experience how these artists share a playful and obsessive approach to painting, photography and object-making, and how juxtaposed, their works connect and compliment each other to elicit surprising relationships. Standing in for the exotic time flowers in Ballard’s story are contemplative art works, glistening jewels with ulterior motives. They not only embody time in their creation, but hold it back from the forces of destruction, if only temporarily.

To travel is to seek depth in understanding. For artists, the artist residency provides this and the opportunity to connect and to share. This exhibition germinated from a seed sown five years ago at 18th St Art Center in Los Angeles. Ever since, ongoing conversations and collaborations have lead to this three-city show seeking to unravel geographic and cultural difference through the medium of time, and it has seen friendships flourish.

While The Garden of Time wilts in Rotterdam, it is set to bloom in Sydney later this year. For now, pluck your opportunity to see it in Venice this April.

Spreads from Bonnae Gokson's book

Short marketing copy

Taking its title from J.G. Ballard’s nostalgic short story of impending doom, The Garden of Time presents the work of six diverse artists ranging from Northern Europe across to Western Australia. With playful and very different approaches to painting, photography or object-making, the thoughtfully curated works in the exhibition coalesce and radiate in surprising ways, like a garden gone wild. Despite an imploding world outside, they invite quiet contemplation as they tease-out fresh perspectives, showcase cultural diversity, and cultivate connections between Australia and the Netherlands.


Sanne Bax (NL), Daan den Houter (NL) Evelyn Malgil (AU), Adam Norton (AU), Vivian Cooper Smith (AU), Anique Weve (NL).

Images from top: Another Sun #2, Vivian Cooper Smith and UFO Tray 5, Adam Norton.

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