Victoria (2003 - 2006) This project is a series of ‘memorial gardens’ embedded within the landscape. It is sited on a 500-metre section of a rural road near Churchill in the La Trobe Valley, Victoria. It acts as a memorial to highway fatalities while also providing space for more personal commemorations. The Memorial reveals itself in several stages as it evolves from a native plant remembrance garden to a roadside re-vegetation program, eventually reverting to a paddock. The Memorial was designed to be ephemeral in two respects: it was usually seen in fleeting glimpses while driving at speed, and its materials meant that it ‘returned to nature’ of its own accord. One of the fundamental principles guiding this work involved ideas centred on landscape entropy: the eventual return of the memorial site to paddock was intended. The analogy of landscape ephemerality offers a unique proposition for an Anti-Memorial. While this project utilises a normative memorial framework — the remembrance garden — its form evolves to embrace spontaneous memorials and changes in the landscape over time. The Road-as-Shrine functioned as a protest against road fatalities and the increasing privatisation of the public realm, as well as promoted safe driving practices. This project interrogates memorial form and landscape processes.
The first native plant remembrance garden (November 2003) was planted in the Road’s verge so that growth and bloom cycles would coincide with significant dates: Christmas and New Years. This first garden was a literal ‘garden of remembrance’ and involved a collaborative effort between numerous sectors of the community.
The second phase of the project involved a cold burn of the native plant material. The cold-burn cycle matched the peak accident period of the holidays and carried a ‘drive safely’ message for motorists. The garden was then left untended and without weed removal. The verge eventually became indistinguishable from the surrounding paddocks again, creating a Memorial that was thus changing and impermanent.