Having noticed this week that the garden has suddenly started to change colour, I set about documenting all the yellow in the garden. Its not surprising at all that the photographs of the same flowers taken at different times of the day varied hugely, but I also recorded the range of yellows in the flowers of this very YELLOW season.
One of the things that has inspired and influenced my creative practice is how we work with the land; to farm, build roads, wear the paths where we shouldn’t walk as well as create boundaries. These are signs of man asserting influence over nature, and the natural landscape. Of course the way things were thousands of years ago will never return but modern-day farm machinery and larger field sizes are two things that have shaped our contemporary countryside.
I have never quite understood topiary but am intrigued when I see orchards with heavily structured boughs, turning a natural system in to a geometric diagram. We ask nature to do what it does not naturally want to do. We expect plants to grow in the wrong soils, because we like the look of them despite our climate, and we can be unforgiving if a ‘weed’ dares to grow where we don’t want it to.
With this in mind I do like to see subversive and anarchic challenges from nature, and nature trying to make its mark where it shouldn’t. Like graffiti on the wrong walls; art in a gallery, vandalism on the streets, plants do sometimes have their own agenda. I found this beautiful plant surviving, flourishing even, in the mortar of a very old wall in Ledbury. It made me laugh. It wasn’t the usual ivy or buddleia, but a beautiful primula, proud as punch of its achievements. Okay, so the leaves are rather small relative to the flower heads but I couldnt help feeling rather pleased for it too.
At the start of the harvest time last year I shared with you our first crops of the season. Today I cleared the brassicas that have been under attack from pigeons all winter – much to my distress, and planted in their place the potatoes for the coming year. It was a sign of handing over the baton to another year of potential, involving the weather, our effort, opportunities for head-space and the reward in what we get to eat.
Each year we start with a revised planting plan, more back ache, a new set of gloves and opportunities for me to draw and record the plants to provide further inspiration for my art and design work. As I have also spent the last few days designing, cutting and printing new lino blocks, the creative process of doing so reminds me very much of being a gardener; working with the elements and using knowledge, intuition, skill, time and desire to create something from small beginnings.
I remain positive about the growing season ahead, surely there cant be as many slugs and pigeons this year… can there? And as for cutting lino, I’m in it for the long haul.
This photo was taken at Birmingham’s old science museum in its last days before demolition as I was carrying out research for subsequent commissions inspired by the site. It goes some way to sum up how things are in the studio at the moment with many lists and scraps of precious information as I am very busy with making new prints & promoting my upcoming show at Tinsmiths, Ledbury next month as well as coordinating suppliers and working on exciting new design work. All this in the break between Spring and Summer terms of my lecturing job…
There are particular visual rhythms I seem to collect as photographs when out and about and so I thought it worth while putting them together as collections of patterns. I’ll leave you guessing what might also feature over the coming months but here’s the first: plaids.
Some are more obvious than others, and while you are looking, keep an eye out for the friendly robin. There’s a list of locations below for those who might be interested.
1a Botanical Gardens, Birmingham
1b Plot 8, our allotment, Birmingham
1c University of Warwick car park
2a Aeneas Wilder, Mead Gallery, University of Warwick
2b Heeley Rd. Birmingham
2c Olympia, London
3a Newtonmore, Scotland
3c Dudley Zoo
4a Hockey arena, London 2012
4b Dudley Zoo
4c Llanthony Priory, Wales
We had a fantastic time at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park en route north to friends this weekend catching the penultimate day of Mark Hearld’s show there. Its such a great venue and there’s always something to discover. We managed to walk some of the grounds and the weather was stunning for the time of year. One problem was the saturated ground, particularly on the slopes which had become rather slippery as a result of snow and rain over the last few weeks. (Three out of the four of us fell to the muddy ground – okay for toddlers, rather less stylish for fully-grown adults!)
While exploring the sculptures I noticed the cross being drawn in the sky, then looked down to the ground by my feet to notice the second made in the grass. With X, V & O letters featuring heavily in my current design collection it shouted out to me. X marked a really beautiful spot up there in Yorkshire.