Garden: An Act of Faith, a Lecture by Topher Delaney
May 4, 2010
Topher Delaney is a visionary and internationally celebrated artist and landscape designer. At the age of 39, she was diagnosed with breast cancer with lymph node involvement. Ms. Delaney made a pact with God. If she survived, she vowed she would devote her practice to helping others heal. Over the past twenty two years, Ms. Delaney has focused on creating designs of healing gardens for hospitals and sanctuaries for both residential and business clients. She creates highly individualized private gardens, conceived as places of retreat and healing. She believes “gardens are sanctuaries, hallowed places of personal retreat.” "Everything I do, whether for a hospital, a business, or a residence, is about comfort, healing, and faith," said Delaney. "When I was beginning my career, landscape design appealed to me as a form of sculpture and as a way of showing my commitment to the environment. It seemed to be the perfect combination of art and civic responsibility. What I have realized along the way is the tremendous power gardens can have on people's psyches." Her practice, SEAM Studio, has evolved from a traditional landscape architectural practice to an atelier, which serves as a venue for the investigation of cultural, social and artistic narratives "seamed" together to form dynamic physical installations. Sites range in scale from intimate to expansive, from private residences and sanctuary gardens for medical facilities to corporate rooftop gardens and large-scale public art installations, including the Isaac Espinoza Memorial garden, a tribute to the San Francisco policeman and a "nave of light" installation at the University of San Francisco entrance plaza. Gardens specially created for the Marin Cancer Center and the San Diego Children’s Hospital demonstrate the palpably healing character of her creations. Delaney has received numerous awards and honors for her achievements in the realms of both landscape design and public art. Her work focusing on the garden as sanctuary has been published in the New York Times, Gardens Illustrated, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Metropolitan Home and Design Quarterly. She is currently featured in Paradise Transformed: Gardens of the 21st Century.