The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Material Culture on Black Friday

Material Culture at 4700 Wissahickon Avenue in Philadelphia

Beautiful Objects and Artifacts in the Lobby

Antique Chinese Ceramic Vessels and Forms to Fabricate Shoes

Antique Chinese Cabinets and Furniture

Indonesian Polychrome Figures and Antique Indian Stone Columns

My Main Reason for Coming: the Stone Pedestals from India

Buddhas, Buddhas and More Stone Buddhas

Material Culture Has a Excellent Selection of Handmade Rugs From Around the World

West African Art

Wooden Masks From West Africa

West African Art by Nigerian artist Prince Twins Seven-Seven

Barack Obama was a Popular Subject of the West African Art

"Black and White Are One"

We usually spend Thanksgiving with my family, where I grew up, in suburban Philadelphia. For the last ten years or so, a visit to Material Culture has been the Friday-after-Thanksgiving tradition. Material Culture specializes in antiques, furnishings, handmade carpets, art and collectibles from around the world. It is located in a 60,000 square foot former warehouse in North Philadelphia.

Material Culture, according to anthropologists, is a non-specific way to refer to the artifacts or other concrete things left by past cultures. The store describes themselves "as a venture dedicated to exploring, sourcing, preserving and supporting many of the world's traditional arts and crafts, we conceive of material culture as: humankind’s hammered and burnished self-portrait: It includes everything we have consciously made to sustain ourselves throughout existence. As such, it encompasses art and architecture, clothing, tools, decoration-all manner of thought made tangible in the form of objects. Its moniker is not necessarily ‘made by hand’ but ‘made by human’. It is the comprehensive inventory in long-hand of our journey through the dark and mundane, the dream in which seemingly limitless multitudes of ‘candles in the night’ light our way home. Holding this, we hold material culture".

Over the years, I have bought carpets, chairs, mirrors and miscellaneous artifacts at Material Culture. My favorite objects are the stone pedestals from Turkey, but more often, India. I have collected about a dozen of them in various sizes and shapes. They are the perfect stands for potted plants on the terrace.

My garden is quite small and one of the ways I try to make it more special is to make all its elements: the pots, plants, and furniture, distinctive and unusual. I like the objects to be hand made if possible. I steer away from the mundane and mass-produced. The stone pedestals are very handsome, made of a natural material and have a patina of age that makes a garden feel more mature. This year, I found a small pedestal just right scale for one the potted succulents that I display on the terrace.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dem Bones, Dem Bones, Dem Garden Bones

View From the Lower Garden: Granite, Box and Yew

This Century-old Granite Wall was the Foundation for a Barn that once stood where the Lower Garden is Today.

Close up of the Granite Bench

Granite Steps to the Lower Garden with Box, Yew and Juniper

View of Mount Monadnock from the Lower Garden

Stewartia Bark Amplified by the Contrasting Background of the Yew Hedge

Acer griseum x 'Gingerbread with Box and Yew Hedges

Exfoliating Bark of Heptacodium miconioides

In mid-November the bones of the garden emerge once more. In my garden, I rely on boxwood balls and hedges, yew hedges, junipers, pines and spruces for the green structure. New Hampshire granite provides the framework for the walls, steps and benches. The interesting bark of the stewartias, heptacodium and the paperbark maple now stand out. Above all, the view of Mount Monadnock is the centerpiece of the late autumn garden.


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