My Wild Garden - Eretz Israel Museum

My Wild Garden

Artist and Illustrator’s Note:

The illustrations in My Wild Garden are like a travelogue for me, a daily imaginary journey to my studio in Montreal to Meir Shalev’s garden, bordering the Jezreel Valley and the Lower Galilee, and back again. It is a journey from a very familiar place-since I am both the artist and Meir’s sister-but nevertheless a place that is constantly shifting its appearance. This is a journey of love and yearning, in which the lines sketched with a pen and the patches of color drawn out by the paintbrushes all move forward, covering distances, tying me to the garden until it becomes a little bit mine, too.

From the beginning my intention was not to create illustrations that explain the writing, but to create a parallel that tells a similar story that is also different. I wanted to sketch a picture of time and place-of a particular house, the garden, the surroundings and the landscape that changes with the seasons; to lead the reader down the steps from the road, past the buckthorn tree to the right, the pomelo tree and gate valve to the left, through the front to the back garden, the sprouting table, the wooden crates, the plastic ones, the plants in blossom and those that have wilted, thorns and weeds, empty pots and full ones, the watering hose, a bucket, a rag and a wheelbarrow-everything that lends the place its special atmosphere, an atmosphere of work and activity, of surplus and simplicity, of organized chaos.

The exhibition displays the original sketches and paintings. The sketches were drawn in pen and describe the place. The paintings, which mostly depict the flowers in the garden, were done in aquarelle and it is these paintings that bestow the place its color. The paintings are not botanical in nature, their lines are freer but accurate enough to enable one to distinguish between ragwort and sorrel, for example. The outlines that appear in the aquarelles are in pen, the same medium as the sketches, allowing the sketches and paintings to speak to each other and to live in harmony between the pages of the book.

Refaella Shir