Las Pozas, also known as Jardín Escultórico Edward James, is a surrealist sculpture garden on the outskirts of Xilitla, Mexico. I was given the task of distilling the essence of the garden into one photograph by photographer Sam Abell, with whom I had just concluded a Seeing Gardens workshop in San Miguel de Allende. I knew it was going to be a photographic challenge, as I would either be dealing with rain or harsh light and the dense foliage of the subtropical rainforest in this region. Other constraints included no tripods (i.e., no long exposures of the waterfalls or pools (Las Pozas = the pools)), time, and unfamiliarity with the garden. Familiarity certainly helps with being in the right place at the right time for light, and what can be achieved from certain vantage points. This photo of “The Bamboo Palace” ended up being one of the last photographs I took that day, after the sun had almost disappeared behind the crescent of mountains to Xilitla’s west, north, and south.
One does not visit Las Pozas for a botanical experience, though the plant life forms the matrix that the garden has been built within (and may eventually be consumed by). Started in 1949 and “completed” in 1984 at a cost of 5 million US dollars, I imagine that by the time the last concrete was poured, the original works were already in need of repair. As I note in the text accompanying the photo submission, maintenance is a Sisyphean task. Still, there are efforts to restore the garden.
For additional photographs of the structures and sculptures of Las Pozas, vist Jeffrey Bale’s blog posting about Las Pozas. You can also spend an hour watching the 1978 documentary, The Secret Life of Edward James, the British poet and aristocrat behind the garden: