This depicts our star, the Sun, as a giant pinyata, shedding its gifts of light and heat energy radiating through space into Earth’s primordial seas, through photosynthetic cells in marine green algae to produce the sugar that feeds early plant life with its biproduct of oxygen providing our atmosphere in the process. The Earth is about 4 billion years old at this time and has just undergone an explosion of new life forms.
This mural will show the development of plants from 505 milion years ago (mya) to the appearance of the first flowers about 120 mya, then it turns into an international peace garden as it approaches the present and on to the future.
1. Sun as pinyata by James Sutherland (JRS)
2. Photosynthetic cell (JRS)
3. Green algae (JRS) after Carolyn Dalbey Finlay
4. Green Sea © Dreamstime
5. Design and Composition throughout (JRS)
A party of carbon based microbes free associating, some combining with others, swapping genes and forming permanent bonds as new more complex organisms progressing from an arena framed by oxygen and carbon dioxide.
6. C,O, CO2 & Microbes (JRS)
4. Green Sea background © Dreamstime
A 438 million year old seashore with Stromatolytes which are circular colonies of Cyanobacteria thriving in the warm, shallow water. These were photographed on the west coast of modern Australia by Dreamstime photogra-pher Bernhard Richter. Water born plants, seeking light, were drawn to the shallows and on to the shore where they met the underground Funghi networks (shown as white filaments in brown earth) with which they swapped their plentiful minerals for plant sugars giving them more energy and the plants more structural strength to grow stems and branches. Some Funghi, (Prototaxites) grew to 30 meters in height. Their fossils were mistaken for tree trunks when first discovered, shown here as rocket – shaped spears.
7. Stromatolytes © Bernhard Richter, Dreamstime
8. Pond Edge, Cooksonia plant, Prototaxites, Moss photos (JRS)
Mosses, Liverworts & Lichens emerge at this time to spread across the marshy land. (JRS) photoraphed these on the shore of Gabriola Island in British Columbia, then embedded famous illustrations of Liver-worts by 19th century botanist Ernst Haeckel in homage to this 19th century master’s art for comparison with contemporary photo illustration of the same subject.
9. Liverworts, Ernst Haeckel, © Library of Congress. US
10. Moss Mound © Thillini Chathurika, Dreamstime
Introduction of the Ferns and the Devonian Period with modern Fern descendents and one of the first trees called Giboa, shown here in black and white to indicate that it is extinct. An exaggerated spear of Fern gametophyte rises beside a Fern mandala composed of 2 species of descendent Ferns collected from the UBC Botanical Garden.
Equisetum appears, its modern descendent is known as ‘Horsetail’. Thriving since 360 mya when they presented as a tree species called
7. Stromatolytes © Bernhard Richter, Dreamstime
8. Pond Edge, Cooksonia plant, Prototaxites, Moss photos (JRS)
The Carboniferous Period brought Tree ferns and another extinct tree, the Lepidodendron with its scaly bark and early cones. The unfurling giant ‘fiddlehead’ brackets the drawing of a Fern Tree called Medullosa Noeii, also extinct. Underbrush here represents a freely speculative abstract homage to all the species that have come and gone before we have found their fossils. A modern white pine rises to represent one of the most enduring plant forms until recent times, a principal contributor to carbon capture in our boreal forests, the lungs of the earth. About 300 million years ago, the Earth’s atmosphere was in the range of 30% oxygen enabling the growth of giant Dragonfly species with 30 inch wingspans…shown on the mural at actual size.
14. Lepidodendron, collage & drawing (JRS)
15. Medullosa Noei, drawing, (JRS)
16. White Pine, painting, oil, (JRS)17. Green Sea © Dreamstime
17. Dragonfly, drawing, (JRS)
The Permian period begins locked in ice. Various tree species continued to develop including the Cordaites, one of the first trees to feature male and female individuals. On a background of fossilized Cordaites leaves, individual fossils of Cordaites leaves appear as tombstones around an extant modern tree fern from Australia photogrphed in the UBC Botanical Garden collection.
18. Cordaites male gametophyte drawing, Peabody Museum, Yale University
19. Cordaites Tree, drawing after Taylor & Krings, 2009 (JRS)
20. Cordaites Female gametophyte, drawing Peabody Museum, Yale University (JRS)
21. Background of fossilized Cordaites leaves, photograph © Servickuz, Dreamstime
22. Cordaites fossil on rock ‘tombstone’, photograph, Peabody museum, Yale, (JRS)21. Background of fossilized Cordaites leaves, photograph © Servickuz, Dreamstime
24. Cordaites fossil on rock ‘tombstone’ photograph, Peabody museum, Yale (JRS)
As the Permian continues, the 3rd and largest Mass Extinction occurs as 70% of all land species and 90% of marine species disappear from the Earth
The Permian period warmed and became arid desert while all the land on Earth had fused into one giant continent : Godwana Carbon dioxide increased and Oxygen fell to 11% by the end of the period.
The Triassic period emerges from the Mass Extinction of the Permian when surviving Fern trees and Gingko trees take hold on the landscape. Exotic conifers like Cypresses establish themselves and Araucaria trees aka ‘Monkey Puzzle’ trees proliferate and produce pine nuts.
25. Williamsonia, Fern Tree, drawing after Carolyn Dalbey Finlay, (JRS)
26. Gingko leaf, digitally enhanced photo (JRS)
27. Cycad crown, digital illustration, © Olsio, Dreamstime
28. Cycad, photograph, © Khunaspix, Dreamstime
29. Cupressus (x3) Cypress, digital drawing © Tikta Alik, Dreamstime
30. Araucaria Tree, photo © Juliia Kokhnova, Dreamstime
31. Araucaria Trunk Detail, photo © Irina274, Dreamstime
32. Araucaria Nuts, photo © Rogeriocaldeira, Dreamstime
33. Araucaria Female Cone, photo, © Jonathan Esper, Dreamstime
34. Araucaria Branch Tip, photo © Longtaildog, Dreamstime
35.Araucaria Cones, photo, © Magdelana Warmuz Dent, Dreamstime
The first Yew trees appear, also Fan Palms, the fruiting bodies of funghi which are the regenerative organs of the micorrhizal networks below the surface of fertile ground, new varieties of pine trees like the Bristle-cone, shown here at the far edge and the proto floral Bennettites.
Dinosaurs roamed the Earth from 245 mya until 65 mya. These are from the Royal Ontario Museum. (JRS) photographed the ROM skeleton, digitally untangled it from its surroundings and added the flesh on the one under the Yew tree, black and white again because it is extinct, although its skeleton is rendered in full colour to denote its imaginary pensive consideration of life in savage Jurassic jungles as it looks back on its own vegetarian mortality.
36. Background stratified mountains, drawing, (JRS)
37. Yew tree with enlarged berry, photos nanook, Dreamstime
38. Stegosaurus, digital drawing, (JRS)
39. Fan Palm, photo © Denis Kurylow, Dreamstime
40. Mushroom Fruiting bodies of subterranean Micorrhizal networks, photos, (JRS) & Dreamstime
41. Scotch Pines, photo, © Siarhei Nosyreu, Dreamstime
42. Bennettite, illustration, © Corey A Ford, Dreamstime
43. Bristlecone Pine, photo, © Fabrice Loyola, Dreamstime
Raven in the role of Archaeopteris, (First Bird?) soars across an egg shaped sky. Raven has the Milky Way reflected in its feathers a tribute to its magical, mischievous, myth inspiring personality. At the foot of the Cycad is one of the first true flowers to evolve: Amborella, (135 mya) .
44. Stegosaurus Skeleton, ROM © photo illustration,© (JRS)
45. Raven with Milky Way illustration © (JRS)
46. Seed Cycad, illustration, © Corey A Ford, Dreamstime
47. First True Flower:Amborella trichopoda, photo,© ayb, Scott Zona, wikipedia, Depto. de Ecologia & Ciecias Ambientales, Facultad de Ciencias, Udelar.
48. Lily Pond, photo (JRS)
“The Force that through the green fuse drives the flower…”, a quotation from Dylan Thomas’poem of that title, continues “Drives Our* Green Age”…(sic)
On the shore of a primordial Lily Pond another new corner, Nymphae (Water Lily) blooms. The rose in the Galaxy above is another poetic flight of fancy as the rose petals unwind in harmony with the turning gyre of the galaxy. What ensues is a parade of flowers from the future accompanying the last of the scientifically correct pro-cession of plants, the Magnolia. The bees arrive at about this time as well.
49. Galaxy Rose, photo collage, Galaxy, NASA, Rose © (JRS)
50. Water Lily blossom as First Lily, photo, © Devy, Dreamstime
51. Jack in the Pulpit, photo, Dreamstime
52. Palmetto tree, photo, © Kpalmiski, Dreamstime
53. Red Arum, photo, © Dreamstime
54. Four Airborne pink Magnolia Buds, © (JRS)
55. Purple Ranunculus, 56. Clematis blossom,photos © (JRS)
57. Large White Magnolia Section, photo, © Dong Tian, Dreamstime
58. Bumble Bee, photo illustration, © (JRS)
59. Dark purple Magnolia, photo © (JRS)
60. Red Poppies, photo © Pstedrak, Dreamstime
61. Yelllow Poppies, 62. Pinapple Lily photos © (JRS)
63. White Peonies, photo © (JRS)
64. Acanthus, photo, © (JRS)
65. Sunflower, photo © (JRS)
66. Pitcher Plant, photo, © Thilo Kruger
67. Maple Blossoms & Leaves photo collage, © (JRS)
68. Magenta Hollyhock, © (JRS)
69. Celosia, © (JRS)
70. Background of Field Lilies photos, © (JRS)
Bloodroot, a common wildflower in the ravines of Toronto,blooms every spring and brings this mural back to its primary purpose as an expression of Nature bursting out all around us – even through cracks in urban sidewalksin common cause with all the plants on earth, their scents,their flavours, their colours and their persistence against many perils. May the humblest inspire the greatest and their greatest appreciate that their greatness depends on the support of the humblest. The little mammal, one of our earliest ancestors, Purgatorius, now extinct, survives in a sense, through us, saw dinosaurs, survived the great meteorite that eliminated those dinosaurs, when, crashing
into what is now the Yucatan, created such a dust cloud that the Sun’s heat could not reach the earth.
Most Dinosaurs perished and were consumed by Funghi while these little mammals thrived because their high temperatures were beyond the endurance of the voracious Fungi.
The next plant is Sage, a savoury kitchen herb, then a Golden Iris followed by a group from Madagascar: Quiver Tree,
Cactus, and Baobab with its fruit and swollen water -filled trunk. The last plant in the sequence is a Banana Tree with its blossom blooming on summer days, in High Park, Toronto.
72. Purgatorius, drawing
73. Golden Iris
74. Sage plant, photos, © (JRS)
75. Quiver Tree, © DaviSteele
76. Flowering Saguaro Cacti, © Linda jonsonbaugh
77 Tall Saguaro, © Ronald Adcock
78. Mutant Saguaro, © Bogdan Luwilis
79. Baobab & Fruit, © Mikhail Dudarev
80. Banana & Blossom, © Luckypic, All Dreamstime
81. Milkweed, Butterfly Nursery, photo collage, © (JRS)
82. Fuschia Flowers,watercolour, © Marney Ward, SFCA,SCA,www.marneyward.corn
83 . Blue Poppy watercolour,© Marney Ward
84. Overhead Bower: Clematis, Rose Hip, Lilac, Coleus, Peonies & Begonias, photos © (JRS)
A milkweed plant hosts a chrysalis inside a cocoon which releases a new monarch butterfly. The butterfly feeds on the nectar from the milkweed blossom until it is strong enough to begin its journey south to the mountains of Mexico where it will over winter, reproduce and start to return to Ontario which takes several generations, flying northward from each milkweed patch to the next, arriving just as the milkweed flowers bloom. It seems to be our role in Nature to witness, study, understand and protect such miracles as they are fragile and vulnerable to our often careless activities.
This panel is draped with a bower of many blossoms like a proscenium arch in an old theatre. Blue Poppies frame a tableau of a group of human beings crossing into the future with a trail map of green brambles indicating the many kinds of humans who have walked the Earth before us. Out of these thousands of years of time and experience is growing an ever more capable brain that increasingly knows itself, helping us to meet our needs and the needs of other creatures. All this has grown in tiny steps over billions of years from the miracle of photosynthesis: That is, sunlight and water being turned into food through chlorophyll. It is a Wonder of Wonders and we are part of it. It is in us and we are in it.
Above the brain at the centre of our stage, is a shield made of an Anishnabek (aka Ojibwa) birch bark basket-lid decorated and held together with porcupine quill. It is in this place of honour to express our gratitude to our forbears on this land, the indigenous occupants of this territory, the Haudenashonie and Wendat people who lived here for millenia and so generously welcomed others from all over the world to share this special place.
This mural honours and thanks them for their courage, kindness and steadfast stewardship of this Natural unfolding story we call Canada. May we prove worthy of their investment in us as together, we proceed into a future of charms and challenges repre-sented here by the two robots who will sometime in our future help us prove whether we are capable of combining all this Nature and all our efforts into a viable and sustainable revelation of meaning.
85. Ojibwa Quill Box Lid as Shield © Margery St. Germain,courtesy of Marie St. Germain photo JRS
86. Brain, digital illustration,© Celestrion, Dreamstime
87. Human Clade of Brambles, illustration
88. Human Family On Bridge to Future
89. Robot Greeters, MIT Museum, Cambridge Massechussets, photo illustration, © (JRS)
When I designed the mosaic murals for this station in 1977, my goal was merely to provide a balancing natural foil to the high technology of transit. When, in 2015, was offered this commission to add to my original work I wanted to recognize the miraculous development of plant life and its central role in the provision of the oxygen we breath and the food all life thrives on. Plants preceded us by many million years creating the conditions which support our lives and understanding. In the 44 years since my mosaic was installed, much scientific research has revealed how plants and funghi have developed and interacted with each other. Many new fossils and dating techniques have emerged to be put to inventive new uses:Enhanced carbon dating, DNA analysis, ground penetrating radars, and radio-active isotope tracking of nutrients among roots and micorrhizal networks, to name a few, have brought to light more accurate insights into the botanical life around us. I hope you will enjoy some of these ideas as presented in the mural in the spirit of Professor Cox comment above along with guidance from our botanical consultant, Dr Roxana Koshravesh, University of Toronto. Borrowing a term from literature, this new mural is a work of ‘creative non fiction’ in that it invites passersby to engage with an artistic depiction of a garden arranged in a manner reflecting some scientific understanding while accommodating the artists’ poetic imagery which may qualify as science fiction, artistic license and/or speculation.
From about 505 million years ago (mya), when the first flowers emerged, the sequence of floral species appears on the mural along the timeline as science has described. But, from 120 mya to the present, multiferous flora from all over the planet appear in a randomized, multi-cultural garden integrated according to the aesthetic priorities of the artist.
Photography is my medium of choice for its essential ability to present images with clarity, while also accommodating expressionistic digital modifications in a full range from hyper-realistic to abstract painterliness. Reaching so far into the past however, necessitated inclusion of pre-photographic media and the help of experts whose grasp of this subject far exceeds my own. I wish to offer them my deepest gratitude for publishing and sharing ideas and images that help us begin to process some of our biggest existential questions.
I needed specific images of extinct species, so set out to search museums and botanical gardens but this enterprise was interrupted by Covid pandemic travel restrictions, and I turned to a commercial photograph & illustration library that supplies images to films, television and books, called Dreamstime.I was encouraged by the quality of the images I found at Dreamstime.com, and thank them and their photographers and illustrators for their generous contributions. I highly recommend them to any who follow similar paths of exploration.
I was most abley assisted by Dr Roxana Koshrevesh, a post-doctoral fellow at the university of Toronto in the Evolutionary Biology Department who gave me advice and guidance on primary facts for the mural.
I visited several natural history museums before travel was proscribed by the pandemic .
Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada New York Museum of Natural History, NY, USA Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, Illinois, USA Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University Peabody Museum of Natural History, Harvard University
Toronto Botanical Garden & Library, Ontario, Canada Royal Botanical Garden, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada Van Dusen Gardens, Vancouver, B.C. Canada U.B.C. Botanical Garden, Vancouver, B.C. Canada Brooklyn Botanical Garden, Brooklyn, NY, USA
Phylogeny & Form in the Plant Kingdom, 1964 Howard Dittmer, University of New Mexico, Carolyn Dalby Finlay, Illustrator Van Nostrand & Co, Princeton, London & Toronto
The Emerald Planet –
How Plants Changed Earth’s History, 2007 David Beerling, Oxford University Press
The Evolution of Plants,
K.J. Willis, J.C. McElwain, 2014 Oxford University Press
Wonders of Life, Brian Cox & Andrew Cohen, 2017 Harper Collins New York
Making of Eden,
How Plants Transformed a Barren Planet, 2019 David Beerling, Oxford University Press
2019 Paul Stametz, Editor with Michael Pollan, Andrew Weill, Suzanne Simard, & Louis Schwartzberg, Photographer Earth Aware Editions, San Rafael, California, USA
Finding the Mother Tree,
2021, Suzanne Simard, Professor of Forest Ecology, University of British Columbia, Penguin Publishers
Ted Talk, Suzanne Simard, Youtube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PvbU6fV8pg
Wonders of Life, Brian Cox 2017, BBCEarth television
The Nature of Things/What Trees Talk About https://www.cbc.ca/natureofthings/episodes/ what-trees-talk-about, David Suzuki, Ryszard Hunka Erna Buffie, Merrit Jensen Carr
I wish to thank everyone who contributed to this mural :
Toronto Transit Commission Project Engineering Coordinator, Daniel Gaito, Project Manager
Helena Grdadolnik, Art Consultant, Workshop Architects
Dr Roxanna Koshravesh, Evolutionary Biology Consultant
Rocky Dobey, Punchclock Metalwork & Installation
Isabelle Bourgeoise & Miriam Chabot, SH Group, Montréal, PQ, Aluminum Printing
Marney Ward, SFCA, www.marneyward.com The Photographers & Artists of Dreamstime.com
Zam Hazeera & Canadian Website Design for their guidance through the process of creating this website
Thank you All for your valuable help.
James Sutherland, Artist/Designer, 2022