Last October, I was put in touch with Dru Chillingworth, the Manager, Parks Maintenance Services for the City of Oshawa. I asked him if he could grow a map of marigolds for the RMG in the summer of 2016. He didn’t seem phased by the request, which left me hopeful! He and I, along with his colleague, Leo Stafford, the city’s Supervisor of Horticulture, met in December and walked around the Civic Centre, dreaming of spring. In May, Charlie Simms, another amazing employee of the city, began to plant the marigolds that he had started from seed in the previous months.
Now, each morning when I come into the RMG, I’m thrilled to see the colourful map, in orange and yellow marigolds, grace the main garden in the Civic Centre.
And the map? Well, it’s part of a larger exhibition of work by Toronto-based artist Sarindar Dhaliwal called The Radcliffe Line and Other Geographies that runs until August 21 at the RMG. The map shows the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan by a British bureaucrat named Cyril Radcliffe. Radcliffe wasn’t given the greatest tools for the task—inaccurate maps, contradictory instructions and a tight timeline of five weeks to complete the work of making two nations out of what had been British India since the mid 19th century. The result was disastrous: displacement and extreme violence that continues today. Dhaliwal’s exhibition touches on the broad implications of this division, as well as how it affected both her and her family.
Sarindar Dhaliwal recreates part of the sub-continent with marigolds, a healing plant that has been referred to as the Rose of India. They are meant to symbolize the mending of the scars of partition–nation states that are rethought with flowers rather than passports.
That the City of Oshawa supports initiatives such as these, speaks volumes to their commitment to arts and culture in its many forms. It’s all about engaging our publics, making us think about the world in a new way. Enjoy the flowers before the fall’s frost!
Senior Curator, RMG