"A Thin 'Pink' Line"

Today with the support of Homotopia and The Merseyside Police I went to the family home of the Causers to plant pansies. Various locations were suggested over the last few weeks though eventually it was seen as most appropriate to plant them at Michael's childhood home. As usual I wanted to plant them in a thin line delineating an architectural feature, in this case the front garden path. I have used this similar technique in many locations, I realised that I've not fully explained why:

I see the individual plantings I make as elegiac symbols of resistance, solitary markers of an incident, sometimes relatively minor, occasionally truly horrific. In the case of larger plantings I feel that a line of thousands of pansies offers a powerful manifestation of The Pansy Project, with large plantings help is welcome and enables a community the chance to show solidarity. Usually these installations occur in municipal locations as in 'Memorial to the Unnamed' (below). Though in transferring the intervention to a domestic scale The Pansy Project becomes a personalised memorial. The Causer Family welcomed me into their home today, amongst the usual domestic detritus and décor, memorials nestle. In one corner of the living room is a large photo of Michael surrounded by flowers and candles; an alter to a lost son. My humble contribution was to plant a line of large lilac and purple pansies along the garden path in a tightly packed line in the front garden (above). This unusual method of planting augments the subtle language of gardening and for me transforms the pansies from regular garden favourite to a potent statement against homophobia.

Somewhat bizarrely this method of planting came to me in a dream. In 2005 when I was first asked to work with many pansies I was invited to place two thousand blooms outside Manchester Gallery in association with queerupnorth. Many helpers arrived at the site, laden with pansies and they looked to me for supervision. Initially they were placed in a rectangle and looked dull and lifeless, despite their zinging pinkness. Fortunately I was able to postpone the placing of the pansies until the next day. That night I dreamt of bloody battles and men at war, struggling over trenches and storming the enemy, I awoke with the phrase “thin red line” swirling around my head. The problem was solved, I saw the pansies could act as a thin 'pink' line. The metaphor seemed appropriate as each pansy became a platoon member, every one a potential sentinel in the battle to confront homophobia.

And so today the childhood home of Michael Causer became a location of solidarity and community spirit. Family and friends, neighbours and various representatives of the Police Force and community groups all gathered to plant pansies, to remember and discuss the realities of contemporary homophobia and its effects on all it touches. My thanks to all that attended and especially to the Causer clan who seem to embody the phrase 'grace under pressure'.

My research continues.....


  1. c'est une très belle idée, une belle réalisation communautaire qui fera évoluer les mentalités, et apaisera la douleur de la famille de Michael.

  2. What an amazing thing you are doing. It really touched my heart. This planet is a better place for your being in it.

    Susan Berland

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