Jim Bowsher has been building the Temple of Tolerance in his backyard for decades. A strange mausoleum or perhaps, multiple ruins, seen closely, it’s something even more extraordinary: a space for anyone who wants to visit, and one especially dedicated to strange people, to those not socially accepted, who live, in one way or another, in a reality altogether different from that of the majority.

Bowsher spent his life working in correctional facilities and reformatories for minors. He noticed that temporary residents had nowhere to go once their sentences were finished, and he created a space for them. A rock garden, it’s also an outdoor gallery he began building in 1981 with a collection of art works made by non-artists —knownas art brut or outsider art— and that’d been presented to Bowsher.

One of the better-known pieces in the Temple of Tolerance is the Bully Eater, a stone on which visitors leave the names of the children who’d bullied them, hoping to stop the bullying. There’s also a container where, for years, bullets that have killed people at war are deposited, a strange, moving mausoleum.

For Bowsher, every visionary has been strange, and that strangeness is illuminating. Perhaps this is what led him to create a temple to these particular people, a refuge in which everyone is welcome and where they can feel accepted, even connected. He calls those who visit his garden “his children,” people in whom others have lost hope, and Bowsher often receives gifts of art in thanks. He wanted to make a place so strange as to disorient his visitors in the belief that disorientation is a first step towards enlightenment. Being odd, inhabiting entirely different worlds, (in a garden that works like another planet); it’s nothing short of a virtue.

In the following video from Atlas Obscura, Bowsher takes us on a tour of his eccentric garden:

 

Image: Stephen – flickr

Jim Bowsher has been building the Temple of Tolerance in his backyard for decades. A strange mausoleum or perhaps, multiple ruins, seen closely, it’s something even more extraordinary: a space for anyone who wants to visit, and one especially dedicated to strange people, to those not socially accepted, who live, in one way or another, in a reality altogether different from that of the majority.

Bowsher spent his life working in correctional facilities and reformatories for minors. He noticed that temporary residents had nowhere to go once their sentences were finished, and he created a space for them. A rock garden, it’s also an outdoor gallery he began building in 1981 with a collection of art works made by non-artists —knownas art brut or outsider art— and that’d been presented to Bowsher.

One of the better-known pieces in the Temple of Tolerance is the Bully Eater, a stone on which visitors leave the names of the children who’d bullied them, hoping to stop the bullying. There’s also a container where, for years, bullets that have killed people at war are deposited, a strange, moving mausoleum.

For Bowsher, every visionary has been strange, and that strangeness is illuminating. Perhaps this is what led him to create a temple to these particular people, a refuge in which everyone is welcome and where they can feel accepted, even connected. He calls those who visit his garden “his children,” people in whom others have lost hope, and Bowsher often receives gifts of art in thanks. He wanted to make a place so strange as to disorient his visitors in the belief that disorientation is a first step towards enlightenment. Being odd, inhabiting entirely different worlds, (in a garden that works like another planet); it’s nothing short of a virtue.

In the following video from Atlas Obscura, Bowsher takes us on a tour of his eccentric garden:

 

Image: Stephen – flickr