The Quebec artist Michel Goulet was born in 1944 in Asbestos and studied at the Université de Sherbrooke and the Université du Québec à Montréal. He has pursued a dual career as an internationally renowned artist and an educator, teaching first at the University of Ottawa and later at the Université du Québec à Montréal. He is recognized on the international art scene for his sculptures and permanent public art works, but also for his set designs for theatre and opera.
He has shown his work in numerous solo and group exhibitions, and has represented Canada at the Venice Biennale (1988). The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal mounted a retrospective of his work in 2004.
Michel Goulet has received a number of honours, including the Prix Paul-Émile-Borduas, the highest distinction awarded to visual artists by the Quebec government (1990), and the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts (2008). He was made an Officer of the Ordre national du Québec in 2018.
In the arboretum of the Montréal Botanical Garden, a chair made of brass and steel is placed in the centre of an enclosure made of stainless steel formed in a lace of leaf motifs echoing those that might be found in the garden. The seat of the chair is decorated with 12 arrows in the positions of clock numbers.
The presence of the artwork in this place produces an encounter between art and nature. Un jardin à soi creates its own space for meditation and contemplation in a contained area. It offers visitors who sit in it a moment of privacy and solitude and encourages them to take an artistic look at what is around them. Sensitive to the integration of his artworks with the site where they are exhibited, Goulet summarizes the complex relationship between Un jardin à soi and its environment:
“The small space does not compete with
the space of the garden,
but summarizes its charm and use.
Its always-open gate and the openwork grillwork
make it a friendly, welcoming place.”
– Goulet, inauguration speech, 2011 (our translation)