Monument to Carrington Galen

Each of Us Finds Our Own Way – Carrington Galen (1965-2016)

This monument shrine was commissioned by Durk Dehner to commemorate Carrington (Carr) Galen. Carr was closely involved with TOM House and remade the garden known as Pleasure Park. He planted many of its trees, including the Brugmansias (Angel’s Trumpets) found throughout the Tom of Finland Foundation’s gardens. Rowland Byass designed and made the monument during August and October of 2018.

“Between February and May of 2017 I was the Artist-in-Residence at Tom of Finland Foundation. This was the first time I experienced TOM House and its gardens. One day while talking in the garden, Durk suggested I create a memorial shrine for Carr. I returned to the Foundation in August 2018 to complete this commission. To research the shrine, I visited Carr’s husband, Joe Candeias Galen, on the ranch where he lived with Carr near Palm Springs. I saw Carr’s paintings, read the diaries he kept since childhood, and talked with Joe. I wanted to make a heroic monument, because from what I learned about him, Carr is a hero. His life included both darkness and light, and he lived it with courage and energy.

The shrine is a contemporary interpretation of a classical monument to a hero, with vibrant hues that reference the colours both in Carr’s art and in Southern California. On the base of the shrine above Carrington’s name, are the words ‘Each of us finds our own way’, taken from one of Carr’s  paintings, and suggested as the motto of his shrine by Joe. The lettering was inscribed by artist John Parot, who collaborated on the shrine with me. The steps forming the base are designed to hold the stones inscribed by his friends and family at his memorial service, candles and other votive objects. Above the steps is a blue truncated pyramid, which I conceived as a temple for Carr, the deity of Pleasure Park. During the two and a half months I stayed at TOM House making the shrine, I lived in the “Sugar Shack” in the garden. I could feel the presence of Carr in the place.

Rowland working on the shine in his studio at TOM House

The figure crowning the pyramid is the work of Stuart Sandford, a former Artist-in-Residence at Tom of Finland Foundation. 3D printing technology was used to model a figure from two photographs of Carr, one of them taken in the garden. In both images he looks happy and proud of his work. This is how I wanted to show him. Behind the figure is a disc in red, orange and yellow. This was inspired by a clock motif that features in two of Carr’s paintings. It also represents a setting or rising sun.

An instance of unconscious synchronicity occurred here. After the installation of the monument, Durk told me that on the day of his passing, Carr fell into sleep as the sun was setting, in the garden he made, close to where the monument now stands.”
Rowland Byass

Rowland Byass (Briton, 1967-)

Rowland Byass in his studio

Rowland Byass is a landscape architect and ceramic artist based in Spain. He was born in Nottingham, England, in 1976. He studied English Literature at Cambridge University, graduating in 2000. Gardens, plants and cultural landscapes have been a consistent strand in his life.

For several years Byass worked as a gardener and garden designer based in London. In 2008 he gained a master’s in Landscape Architecture from the University of Sheffield. His MA dissertation,an analysis and critique of the redesign of a public square in Manchester, won a Landscape Institute award. He has designed and made several urban and rural landscapes in the UK and France and worked with The Indian Trust for Architecture and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) masterplanning a sacred landscape around the Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga temple in Ujjain, India.

In 2014 he presented a paper on ruins, weeds and wastelands in Berlin at a conference, Material Memory: post-industrial landscapes and creative practices, organised by the School of Art at Newcastle University. This was published as a chapter of a book, The Post- Industrial Landscape as Site for Creative Practice (2016), edited by Gwen Heaney.

Byass moved from London to Berlin in 2016 where he developed a ceramic practice, initially concentrating on hand-building vessels for plants. Influenced by the buildings and landscapes of Berlin, his ceramic vessels combine architectural forms and living planting with an aesthetic informed by ruins and post-industrial landscapes. His first show of ceramic work in the USA, Cracks in the Grid, featured the works he produced during a three month artist residency at Tom of Finland Foundation, Los Angeles. This took the form of a cityscape of planted vessels that represented the urban form and plant life of the city.

In 2018 Byass moved to the small coastal town of Altea, in the Valencia region of Spain. Here he worked on a new body of ceramic work. He showed this work in his exhibition, Broken, in July 2018 in Altea.

In August 2018, he returned to Los Angeles to make a shrine for Carrington Galen commissioned by the president of Tom of Finland Foundation, Durk Dehner. Like the work he made during his 2017 stay, the shrine was conceived and made in an outdoor studio in the garden of the Foundation. The Carrington Galen shrine [below] is his first memorial work.