Public Program

  • On Gardens: Contemplating the Relative in Space, Time, and Life
    Shayari de Silva
    Lunuganga, Colombo, Sri Lanka
    Jul to Dec 2024
    Geoffrey Bawa Trust

Geoffrey Bawa with Ulrik Plesner, “Lunuganga,” 1958–60. Gelatin Silver print. Courtesy Geoffrey Bawa and Lunuganga Trusts, Sri Lanka

Taking its title from the writings of Isamu Noguchi on gardens, this project explores the potentials of gardens by examining the works of Isamu Noguchi, Roberto Burle Marx, and Geoffrey Bawa. In 2023, Bawa’s garden Lunuganga in Sri Lanka celebrates its 75th anniversary, and the Geoffrey Bawa Trust invites the Isamu Noguchi Foundation and the Instituto Burle Marx to explore through dialogue the shared and different ways in which these three figures used the medium of the garden to inspire and instruct. An installation at Lunuganga featuring the work of the three makers will explore how gardens were mediums for exploring questions around rootedness and temporality against the landscape of modern art and architecture. The installations are accompanied by a series of talks which delve deeper into each practice and legacy, while making broader connections to the affinities in their genre-defying work.

Shayari de Silva has overseen the programs around exhibition, publication, and conservation at the Geoffrey Bawa Trust since 2018, where she is the chief curator. Her exhibitions include The Gift; five site-specific installations at Bawa’s garden, Lunuganga, by Kengo Kuma, Lee Mingwei, Dominic Sansoni, Dayanita Singh, and Chandragupta Thenuwara, part of the Bawa 100 Centennial Celebration, and It is Essential to be There, the first exhibition to draw from the Geoffrey Bawa Archives, on view in Colombo and New Delhi. De Silva coedited Perspecta 51: Medium, the Yale Architecture Journal published by the MIT press in 2018; and edited Geoffrey Bawa: Drawing from the Archives published by Lars Müller Publishers in 2023. She has worked previously at the Yale Art Gallery and Yale Centre for British Art, where she was a Bartels Scholar in Building Conservation. De Silva obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Yale University.

Founded in 1985 by category-defying artist Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988), The Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum (now known as The Noguchi Museum), was the first museum in the United States to be established, designed, and installed by a living artist to show their own work. Located in Long Island City, Queens, the Museum itself is widely viewed as among the artist’s greatest achievements. Holding the world’s largest collection of his works, it features open air and indoor galleries in a repurposed 1920s industrial building and a serene outdoor sculpture garden. Consistent with Noguchi’s interest in art being experiential, works are often displayed without barriers or interpretation to encourage visitors to form personal and introspective connections.

The Burle Marx Institute (BMI) is a nonprofit civil society organization that aims to interact, learn, and work in partnership with other organizations and social groups. Created in 2019 based on the commitment of the partners of the Burle Marx Landscape Studio to make public access to its collection; more than 150,000 items, including sketches, projects, photographs, documents, letters, and newspaper clippings, built over seven decades of practice which tells the story and collective legacy of one of the most important landscape architects of the twentieth century. BMI's priority is to ensure preservation and dissemination; making this vast array of work accessible to all and enhancing the artistic and landscape legacy of Burle Marx and his collaborators through cultural and educational initiatives and knowledge exchanges, aiming to contribute to Brazilian biomes preservation and expanding discussion on healthier, inclusive, and greener cities.

The Geoffrey Bawa Trust was established in 1982 with the objectives of furthering the fields of architecture, the fine arts, ecological, and environmental studies. The Trust has operated as a nonprofit, public trust from its inception, managing the legacy and conservation of Geoffrey Bawa’s buildings, garden, and collections as well as making his work accessible to the public through programs.