Red Leaf (2014) is a permanent outdoor seating designed for the President’s Verdala Sculpture Garden in Buskett, Malta. It is located in a very secluded area of the Garden. The idea of presenting a garden bench without the customary four-legged arrangement potentially provides the seated sitter with a sensation of physical elevation. This is intended to further contribute to the inner peace we may experience when sitting quietly on a garden bench.
The beauty of decomposing nature serves as the main inspiration for this work. The original 3D design seen in the second image below, indicates how a large scale Red Leaf would be incorporated within a natural setting, becoming one with the surrounding natural environment as nature takes over the space within which the structure has been installed. The created for the Verdala Sculpture Gardens is on a slightly smaller scale than the conceptual drawing, however, the concept still comes through fully.
As you encounter this work – consisting of three similar pieces clustered together under the trees – an allusion to objects that are light enough to be blown away by the wind is deliberately intended. Alternatively, it’s as if the three giant red leaves have just dropped from a tree and are about to rest on the ground. Their low height serves to enhance our direct connection with the natural surroundings.
The pattern and shape of the surface enable any rain or dew to flow gently down into the negative spaces, which are meant to make the seating arrangement more practical, even if it may seem odd at first glance.
The play of light with the surface pattern creates an arrangement of shadows that blend harmoniously in the surrounding atmosphere. The other-worldliness of the space is accentuated by the stone cross that remains from what was possibly an old shrine in the gardens. The particular shapes of shade on the ground beneath the leaves, created whenever the sun shines above the gardens, highlight the use of shadows as a signature element in Tabone’s broader body of works.
The Red Leaf also inspired the white seating arrangements around the rest of the Verdala Sculpture Gardens, which were reproduced on a more industrial scale than this particular work by the artist. Their purpose is to provide visitors to the place with a more playful and creative experience, particularly before/after they have experienced the unique Red Leaf environment.