6. “Tree of Knowledge”

William Roberts and Laura Santin, landscape designers

The concept

Plants shape culture, culture shapes plants.
ToK is inspired by the journeys that humanity has embarked upon, how those journeys have informed cultures, and how the existing culture at that time influenced the journeys. We have explored the world and returned to our points of origin with ‘pieces’ of other cultures. One of those pieces are the plants that those cultures have domesticated throughout their history. The installation poses an open question: is the current disconnection with those journeys and their outcomes concerning?

The interview

What was the last book you read? And the next?
[LS] ”Cien años de soledad” by Gabriel García Márquez. I am currently reading “Ficciones” by Jorge Luis Borges, “Psychomagic” by Alejandro Jodorowsky, and “Cosmos” by Carl Sagan.
Next. The Odyssey, Homer.

[WR] “Walden” by Henry David Thoreau.
Next. Death of Nature.

Where is your next journey to?
[LS + WR] For the next big journey, we would like to travel back to India. Our most immediate journey is to the estuary of the Mississippi River in Louisiana, William’s home state.

What is your favourite colour?
[LS] The golden yellow of cereal fields.
[WR] Blues.

What is your favourite plant?
[LS] So many, impossible to choose!
[WR] Cactus.

Where would you like to live?
[LS] I feel fortunate to live nomadically between United States and Spain.
[WR] It’s difficult to choose, there are so many great places.

Which is your favourite historical period?
[LS] Prehistory, Greeks, Alexander the Great, Roman Empire, Al-Andalus, Renaissance, American Independence, French Revolution, and Paris in between wars.
[WR] Italian Renaissance.

Describe, in a few words, a scene that best represents for you the idea of “beauty and elegance”?
[LS] “Out of Africa” 1985. “Atonement” 2007. Keira Knightley, in the green dress at the library.
[WR] Princess Diana Memorial Fountain in London, UK.

What is for you the garden?
[LS] A garden is one of the most sublime works of art, in a garden coalesces all art, and it hosts all arts, opening a door to a state of mind for transcendence or for joy.
[WR] A garden is a place to escape, to be, to connect, and to dream.

What is for you the trip?
[LS + WR] We loved the opportunity to live within the community of the shores of Lake Como for a week, and share the process of making Tree of Knowledge with them, and all the people involved.