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‘A Garden of Time’: Get to know the man behind the Met Gala theme

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

James Graham Ballard was born in Shanghai, China and, before becoming a writer, he studied medicine at Cambridge University and was a pilot in the British Air Force. In the 1950s,he discovered his calling for writing and sold his first story to New Worlds, a little later Ballard wrote Crash, which was adapted into a movie by David Cronenberg in 1996. 

Ballard has written several novels and numerous tales that blend elements from different genres: combining action and adventure with science, psychiatry with surrealism, post-modernism with narrative. In turn, he has a reputation as one of the most imaginative and thought-provoking writers, for his provocative works that experiment with the relationship between human psychology and the mass media, bringing something futuristic to his work.

Knowing a little about J.G Ballard’s story, The Garden Of Time is a science fiction tale, which tells the story of a sumptuous villa overlooking a garden of delicate glass-stemmed flowers. Count Axel and Countess live a decadent life in their beautiful home which contains an enhanced swimming pool and garden, but the elegant landscape of their home is disturbed by a dark speck on the horizon, the army of workers approaching day by day. To slow down their approach, Count Axel cuts a flower from his garden, which turns back time and causes the mass to retreat behind the hills.

However, this solution is temporary, the flowers are running out and the mass of workers will soon arrive to take revenge. This is a bit of J.G Ballard’s tale, being science fiction, Ballard brings through the garden an ambiguity and contradiction and at the same time something hypnotizing.

The Garden Of Time is a tale from 1962, which explores current environmental implications, you can see that the garden is fragile because the flowers are made of glass, and you can see that the workers are the force that occasionally invades the landscape, which however, is already being exploited by the Count and Countess, who have uprooted the flowers to protect themselves from the wrath of the workers. 


The first Monday in May is exactly one week away, and we’re excited to see some of our favorite beauty trends grace the red carpet ✨ With “The Garden of Time” being the official dress code of this year’s MetGala, we’re expecting some bold looks inspired by the beauty of nature. From PatMcGrath’s porcelain doll makeup look from the #MaisonMargiela show to floral decals and headpieces, we’re thinking that this year’s red carpet looks will memorable 🌸 What are some of your predictions? #metgala2024 #metgalaredcarpet #metgalastyle #redcarpet #redcarpetbeauty #beautytok #beautylooks Images via Getty Images

♬ Vlog Video work Fashionable BGM(847726) – Tsuyoshi_san

The two sides that J.G Ballard points out can be a metaphor for how mass industry and aristocratic greed can stimulate environmental destruction. In his novels and tales, Ballard is very aware of the issues that would come to be in the future, pointing out that our own weakening is part of the spread of nature.

Why was The Garden Of Time a good choice?

Ballard’s tales show us something thought-provoking about human evolution, the endless cycle of creation and destruction, which has been going on for the whole of human story, the existence of something beautiful and fragile -nature – that is exploited by aristocrats who understand for themselves that they have the freedom to exploit the beautiful, and the great masses who understand that it doesn’t belong to people of power, so they feel entitled to invade the landscape – nature-, bringing then, together with those of power, the total destruction of the beautiful.

The Met Gala always aims to raise funds in support of the Costume Institute, the fashion and textiles arm of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and through the theme of the event a social, environmental or political issue is addressed, so that through fashion the celebrities express and convey the meaning of the evening’s theme. And using Ballard’s tale a lot can be explored, because through this art it’s possible to demonstrate what the tale conveys, environmental destruction, human greed and the future, because the tale leads the reader to imagine something futuristic and eccentric, different from what is “normal”.


The #MetGala is one week away! Sign up to watch our red carpet livestream here on Tiktok in our bio.

♬ original sound – Vogue

J.G Ballard has a brilliant mind and this can be seen in his novels and tales, it’s no wonder that two of them have been taken to cinema. With a mind that has led and continues to lead many people to imagine magnificent and futuristic things, Ballard is exceptional at bringing subjects to be discussed in this way and taking those who read him to the place of self-analysis of their choices and attitudes. 

The theme can be interpreted by Met Gala guests with references to nature and flowers, from something more romantic to disproportionate florals, but it can also be taken by them to the darker side of the story of the tale, bringing references to the dark and macabre, reminiscent of the degradation and decay of what was beautiful. As the futuristic and imaginative side can also be explored by the guests, since Ballard’s tale and stories make references to this, much is expected of this red carpet, just wait for something memorable.  


The article above was edited by Malu Alcântara.

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Vitória Venturin

Casper Libero '27

Journalism student at Casper Libero university, lover fashion, movies, culture and communication :)