I read Noel Kingsbury‘s review of Jan Brykszynski’s The Gardener in the current issue of Gardens Ilustrated and I wanted to buy the book, which is unusual for me. I’ve given up on owning books in general, but sometimes the allure of holding an actual tome in my hand gets the better of me. Brykczynski is the winner of the 2013 Syngenta Photography Award. As stated in the introduction to the The Gardener, “The Syngenta Photography Award invites photographers worldwide to be part of a creative dialogue about our changing planet, using their diverse and compelling imagery to draw attention to todays global challenges.
Rural-Urban, this years theme, explores the relationship and tensions between rural and urban environments, how changes affect individuals and communities, and how this impacts overall global food security.”
Brykczynski spent a year traveling between New York, Nairobi, Warsaw and Yerevan taking the photographs for this book.
“I focused on low-income communities where people act according to their hearts rather than follow passing fads, to visit places where there are no ready-made materials to create a garden or any landscape gardeners to design it.
Where people make use of what’s available – often re-used materials – and improvise. I was particularly interested in structures that were set up spontaneously for cultivation.”
The photographs in this book may not be outstanding documentary photographs.* When I walk around East Harlem,which is the closest neighborhood to Randall’s Island, I see very similar adaptions and uses of found materials for gardening purposes. Kingsbury is right in his assesment of The Gardener, it falls short as a book that carries textural information. There are no names, no descriptions of the places or what prompted these gardens to be made. It’s simply, a humbling experience to see what can be done with so very little.
*Please note that I cropped several of photographs that I reproduced from the book, because most of the photographs go across the gutter).