Bringing the refugee crisis to life in a garden in the heart of Istanbul

Posted on 27th April 2016

My trowel is packed and I am about to head off to help build my show garden for the inaugural Besiktas garden festival in Istanbul, Turkey.  I really have no idea what awaits but I am up for the challenge and excited to be building my first international show garden.

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Istanbul visual 2 final

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The garden is called ‘Seeking refuge’ and will represent how the terror of war forces people to flee their homes in search of safety and peace. To many the identity of the ‘refugee’ is faceless and I’m hoping my garden will allow visitors to the show to contemplate the desperate need, fear and often the limited opportunities refugees are presented with.

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Towers in the garden will soar into the canopy of the park trees with threatening barbed wire encircling the middle of the structures. Mannequins, representing the anonymous, stateless situation of refugees fleeing conflict, balance precariously on the edge of diving board precipices. Below drifts of grasses and spiky Agave denote a potentially hazardous watery journey with oil drums symbolising both the factors that have fuelled their predicament and the confined, uncertain future that lies ahead.

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Istanbul visual 5 final

 

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There couldn’t be a better place than Istanbul to be making this garden given that Turkey hosts 1.9 million refugees, more than any other country worldwide and more than 10 times the number of new Syrian asylum applications received in all 28 EU countries in the past three years with the six Gulf countries and numerous other high income countries around the World offering zero resettlement places (source Amnesty International).

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Beşiktaş International Garden & Flower Festival Istanbul, Turkey Sat 7 – Sun 15 May 2016

 

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