Elizabeth Murray completely captivated the large and enthusiastic crowd at the inaugural event of the new Speaker Series at The Gardens at Heather Farm on January 26th, 2012. Painter, photographer, gardener, teacher, Elizabeth wove her personal journey into the work she’s done at Claude Monet’s extraordinary garden at Giverny over the past 25 years. Elizabeth abandoned a successful landscaping business in California, unable to resist the call to go to France as a volunteer gardener with only a verbal promise of room and board. The volunteer post was no gift – she had to prove herself and her skills – but the hard work deepened her understanding of the remarkable nature of Giverny and of herself as well.
Beautiful archival photographs of the original home and surrounding land along with the great artist himself brought Monet’s vision and passion to life, and the story of his years there was riveting.
Over the years, Elizabeth combined a love of nature and fine gardening skills with her artistic gifts to produce Monet’s Passion, a chronicle of Giverny. Her photographic record of the garden provides not only the familiar sights of Water Lilies, Wisteria, Iris and Poppies but a view of a world very few see – Giverny in the off season. How the gardeners in the audience loved seeing behind-the-scenes shots of workers involved in the clearing and preparation of beds for the next year’s visitors. Elizabeth was also deeply affected by the spirit and work of Monet himself. Woven into the scenes of the garden were breathtaking examples of Elizabeth’s art – paintings, photography and “Painterly Photography”, manipulated Polaroid photographs.
Elizabeth spoke movingly of the effect all gardens and the act of gardening itself has on the human spirit. She has a deep commitment to healthy gardening practices and acknowledged the work done by the staff and volunteers of The Gardens to be a completely sustainable public garden.
Guests enjoyed refreshments after the presentation and were able to view a number of Elizabeth’s paintings. Elizabeth’s books were also for sale, and a number of people brought their own copies of Monet’s Vision to be autographed.
— Susan Handjian