Alpine Botanical Garden Meyrin

Nids, terriers & autres refuges

Summer/autumn 2017

Fonds d’art contemporain
de la ville de Meyrin

Jardin  botanique alpin de Meyrin

The refuge is octagonal in shape, symbolizing the four cardinal directions (N. – E. – S. – W.) as well as the four intermediate positions (NE. – SE. – SW. – NW.). It also symbolizes the center of the world, where people from all corners of the globe can meet; it is an allusion to the mythological tower of Babylon, where people lived once humanity was united.
The octagon, with its eight marked points along the edge or eight rays emanating from the center, is assimilated to the enneagram, the central point of the octagon is counted as a hidden central point.
The hub of the wheel, through which one can pass into another dimension, is closely associated with divine beings, the realms of illusion, religion, legend, alchemy, science, and technology.


At the bend in a clearing, an unexpected plant development appears. Mysterious as in a fairy tale, it attracts us. Four stones mark its centre; is it a hearth? Who is this place for?

Formed by an interlacing of branches and creepers, it lurks in its environment. The surprise is that everything is painted, on the artist’s favourite medium: paper. The skillful weaving appears in volume through a work in watercolour and walnut stain. The colours fuse with each other, creating fades and iridescence, in a finesse that does not wear out with the eye. The rather dark hues transform the paper roots into a trunk of bronze before our eyes. The fragile beauty of the scattered flowers is born from this vigour.

Although it mimics a natural shelter, it has a strict octagonal plan. It does not have the air of the relaxation kiosk of English gardens (it should be noted that the artist has this nationality, and that the Alpine gardens were created by the first British tourists in Switzerland in the 19th century, who imagined them on the model of their gardens). The aedicula, which is fragile, simply laid out, open to the elements and pierced at the zenith, cannot be a refuge. The orientation was obviously chosen with a heart of light, and eight sides around it, indicating the cardinal points and their in-betweens. Could it be a center in the universe, a starting point or a confluence?

The painted flowers come from all over the world, all associated with peace: the white poppy especially, the violet (love and dignity), the apple blossom (knowledge and wisdom), the jasmine finally (divine hope).

Rust corrodes the structure which blends into the painted colours. Time tears off the paper. The grove becomes immemorial. Yet the flowers multiply because the artist comes to heal the wounds with new cuttings. As in the Asian culture, she cares for the broken object with benevolence to regenerate it.

Jane Le Besque has therefore created a sacred place, telling the story of a guardian to whom it is good to walk; she knows the secrets of the plant world, to soothe the earth and sow harmony. For the summer solstice, a shaman blessed the “temple” and hid a mysterious amulet under the stone.

The installation Woodhenge, 1 also salutes the megalithic site of Stonehenge, which reveals a corridor of solar energy at the summer solstice; this funerary shrine celebrates the power of life. The artist’s questions are profound because what we call “nature” is beyond us. Can it be reduced to science? Are we really looking at it and how?

The first Land-artists left their mark on space by their displacement or rudimentary traces. Jane Le Besque walks over very long distances, comparing her journeys to tree systems: rivers, roots, arteries, neurons, etc. in the affirmation of a man-nature continuity. Her work develops a living thought and an ethic of “nature”; which will grow with a possible Woodhenge, ii.

Passionate about botany, humans and their relationship with nature, Jane Le Besque creates works that invite us to examine how representation implies notions of culture. Her work refers to the sad colonial project and the exploitation of indigenous peoples and the destruction of biodiversity. Questioning the ethics of landscaping, she approaches the notion of “original” landscape as a true socio-cultural construction.

Jane Le Besque