An artist who plants pansies at the site of homophobic attacks has won a Royal Horticultural Society gold medal and was awarded best conceptual garden at Hampton Court this week.
Paul Harfleet’s Pansy Project is described as part memorial and part art installation and a gesture of “quiet resistance”.
After a homophobic attack, he finds the closest spot of soil to where the incident occurs and plants one unmarked pansy.
He then photographs the plant and gives the image a title relating to the abuse – such as ‘F**king Faggot’ and ‘Let’s Kill the Batty Man’.
For those who have been killed, such as 18-year-old Liverpool hairdresser Michael Causer, the title is different. Causer’s title is ‘Liverpool, For Michael Causer’.
The winning garden is an extension of the project, Mr Harfleet said.
It takes the shape of a “confrontational” concrete structure which references a city pavement; the urban setting for many homophobic hate crimes.
The concrete slabs have been arranged at angles to appear shattered, while four thousand pansies in pinks, purples and whites, line the borders and nestle in the cracks.
Mr Harfleet worked with his brother Tom, a garden designer, to create the work. The pair describe the installation as fusing art and horticulture in a “politically-driven living memorial that seeks to represent the effects of homophobic hate crimes on contemporary society”.
The artist said: “I am absolutely delighted that we have won Best Conceptual Garden. What started as a small-scale autobiographical artwork has successfully crossed over into horticulture.
“The quality of the Conceptual Gardens this year has been extremely high, pushing the boundaries of garden design and exploring new design ideas. I am delighted our garden has received such positive recognition.”
More of Mr Harfleet’s work can be seen at thepansyproject.com