Client: Flagler Hospital
Location: St Augustine, FL, United States
Completion date: 2009
Artwork budget: $17,000
Master Gardeners of St Johns County Florida, UF Extension Office
UF's Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology
Flagler Healthcare Foundation, Inc.
Flagler Healthcare Foundation, Inc
Clark and Alice Alger decided to donate a complete refurbishing of the courtyard of Flagler Hospital, St Johns County, Florida. The courtyard is enclosed by the hospital building but it had an unimaginative combination of sidewalks, concrete benches and perfunctory shrubs. The plantings provided little shade; the benches were uncomfortable. The Algers conceived of transforming this uninviting space into a sheltering, welcoming garden.
The Algers tasked the Master Gardeners of St Johns County, Florida, to draw up a plan which would include trees, shrubs and perennials indigenous to Florida, drought resistant and butterfly friendly. A local nursery donated the water feature, a beautiful, stacked stone fountain large enough for water to cascade and create that peaceful sound. They also built a massive curved Pergola on the west side of the Fountain. Donor Bricks created expansive curving walkways between larger patio areas. Tables and chairs provided comfortable seating under the pergola. Redwood benches under smaller pergolas are scattered through the walkways.
I was first contacted by the Flagler Healthcare Foundation about creating mosaics for the new Tranquility Garden. Standing in the middle of the stripped courtyard area, I chose to use three stucco column-walls between large banks of windows on the west end. I knew the curving Pergola and the dramatic fountain would be built there. The Alger family, donors for the project, wanted every aspect of the garden to celebrate something native to Florida. We agreed upon the idea of a triptych of Wading Birds, one mosaic (3 feet wide and 6 feet tall) would grace each of the three stucco walls which were only 4 feet wide.
This was my first opportunity to install my mosaics as a permanent part of a building. I made each mosaic in sections leaving unfinished strips at the seams to be finished and grouted on site so they would appear seamless. The mosaics are finished with a travertine surround: the art is a part of the architecture. The mosaic materials, subject and colors resonate with the plantings, fountain and pergola creating a refuge from anxiety one might experience at the hospital. I later completed a four panel mosaic, The Four Seasons, for the adjacent Hospice Gardens, 2014.