working with nature and nature working with us

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.

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