A sense of nostalgia and a longing for the mainland permeates multiple award-winning landscape designer Inch’s latest show garden creation exhibited in Wuhan during its National week recently
BY YVONNE YOONG
Poignancy resonates with the passage of time. The landscape elements replete with Southeast Asian elements proved to be the perfect narrative for Inch Lim or Lim In Chong’s show garden which was designed for China’s National Day celebration.
Commissioned to design and install the Southeast Asian garden for the city of Wuhan for its garden show to celebrate the country’s National Day and Golden Week, Inch worked alongside three other internationally renowned landscape designers who were each invited to build three other show gardens respectively following a Bohemian, Mediterranean and French theme.
The show gardens, representing the nation’s national Golden Week which stretched from October 1 to October 7, 2019, were staged during that is considered the largest week for tourism in China.
This is the time when China’s citizens take time off to be with the family. This celebration also coincided with the International Military Olympics Games which was held in China this year,” explains Inch.
He relates that his Southeast Asian garden, tells of a time when men would leave their homes in China and travel long distances and over perilous circumstances to South East Asia in search of their fortunes.
“The wives were left at home separated from their husbands by insurmountable obstacles. The only consolation were the occasional letters that arrived,” he says.
Expression of Longing
“I’m always very touched by the past. All that aching feeling of missing somebody who has gone away… Over a century ago when one left China on that perilous journey by sea, one was aware that the separation would have been very long term and there was no guarantee that one would have been able to return. This intensified the feeling of longing for home. The time span between leaving when one was 16 years old and only returning at 40, was represented in the bamboo bridge that was simply just a bamboo lashed together to form a bridge,” reminisces Inch.
Tropical plants from Hangzhou and Shenzhen were painstakingly gathered and assembled together as a conceptual representation of Southeast Asia.
“It’s the feeling that you can arouse in the audience that counts. The minute that you can get them to feel, you have established a bond between them and the garden,” he shares further of the narrative of the show garden in which he even designed a small secret garden for guests to sit and ponder.
The home in China he adds, is represented by a round moon gate to symbolise the mainland. “You go in there and look across to the ocean which is represented by a linear waterway which was created by us digging a trench and lining it with a membrane.
On the opposite side of the waterway representing the high seas is a profusion of colours and plants chosen for their various textures, shapes, sizes and colours woven together into a harmonious whole spanning a 2.000 sq ft land area.
A giant chicken cage-like bamboo structure shows the representation of Southeast Asia – the land beyond – teeming with riches where sojourners went in search of their fortunes but in which they were ironically also encased in the challenge of meeting the hardship of irking out their living in a foreign land in order to send money back.
“It’s a caged feeling – much like the immigrants’ feeling of being imprisoned and not being able to escape, as the entire economy of the family rests on their shoulders, he reiterates.
“We in the 21st century are apart from them but still intimately connected even though we are separated by time and distance.” he reminisces.
True to his ingenuity, the show garden of the symbolically created mainland, can be viewed from various angles and accessed via different gateways so those on the outside can also enter and view the whole garden. Even the front fence is lowered into an inverted arch to reveal the dome, he adds.
Inch shares that he wanted to amalgamate a Southeast Asian feel with the use of traditional Chinese materials. Hence, he met up with the bamboo craftsmen to devise the bridge.
“All our neighbouring countries use bamboo extensively in their construction. I wanted to learn about the craftsmanship as well as techniques of building structures and making furniture. I wanted to create a bamboo garden using eco-friendly materials,” he enthuses. “The show garden has to be dramatic, it has to have drama as well as narrative, beauty and interest – so that is why it is designed that way.”
The conceptual giant cage was planted with tropical plants such as Megakepesma Hibiscus Ixora and other tropical plants to represent parts Southeast Asia where the drama was played out.
The garden was well received by the half a million or so visitors to the show and Inch has been requested by a Municipal Government to represent them in creating a show garden for the upcoming Shenzhen rower show in March 2020.