I was determined to photograph our resident deer who, in the day, inhabits the thickets around the edge of the meadow. I was lucky. As I reached the corner she bounded out of the hawthorn bushes.
For about 3 weeks every year the trees in our garden share their blossom reflecting the vision of the garden's creator. The large pink flowers of wild cherry, the pale delicate flowers of apple and plum and the dazzling white of the hawthorn. This year they all emerged in the last few days of April and the first few days of May but when I looked at the cherry trees today much of their blossom had already withered or been blown away. A sad end to one of the most beautiful sites my garden has to offer but to appreciate the beauty of the cherry tree is to live a good life.
Ode to my fence (from a post I made in March on my #creativeHE blog)
This might seem like a strange title but it represents the outcome of a #creativeHE hands-on 'Creativity in the Making' conversation that I have been co-facilitating with John Rae over the last two weeks (March 6-20th). The basic idea for this conversation was to invite participants to make something and to create a narrative about their making process to try and tease out how creatvity featured in the process. Alongside this practical making, John and I, assisted by Joy Whitton tried to encourage participants to think about the process of making and share their own perspectives. What has emerged (and is still emerging as a write this) is an interesting and rich set of perspectives. At the time of the conversation one of my fences was being taken down and a new one built so I used it as the subject of my making. The artefacts I made are in the form of a narrative and a film which I posted on YouTube. Its a good example of how my garden inspires me to make and create and to think about it from an ecological perspective.
Its been the hottest May Bank Holiday ever peaking at nearly 28C. For the last four days we have had an azure blue sky with no clouds/ Its still very warm but the first clouds have reappeared signalling a change is on the way.
This weekend is very special to me.. it’s the 19th anniversary of the death of my first wife. I remember her all the time but particularly when I’m in the garden – she loved the garden and often sat in it to drink her mid-morning coffee. Every year at this time she sends me a gentle reminder, as the for-get-me-knots sprout up all over the garden and woods. They are so pretty and modest yet so resilient and hardy – very much like her. I feel her spirit lives on in this natural cycle of renewal which will go on forever.
In December 2017 I was involved in #creativeHE conversation and wrote this on my blog.
I got side tracked today - actually I enjoyed it and it ended up being well worth it. My wife has decided we need some art work on our bare walls. I have been saying for years I will paint something but never got round to it (50 years ago! I painted a lot and had hoped to go to art college when I left school): I sensed that this time I was going to have to go along with it. So I began to search for inspiration and turned to one of my favourite artists David Hockney. I came across a wonderful documentary in which Andrew Marr (himself a masterful practitioner) interviewed David Hockney about his work just before his major exhibition at the Royal Academy - The Art of Seeing. And for the second day in succession I was 'enchanted'
Here is a man with great artistic talent, intelligence and a work ethic that few of us can match who never stops thinking about his work, who sees the extraordinary in the ordinary, who is a craftsman who makes poetry with his images. His observations and narrative illuminate his practices. They reveal his journey and how his past experiences and what he values are brought to bear in his present work "The Yorkshire landscape is painted by someone who has lived in LA for 30 years". He reveals how he feeds off the environment in which he places himself "I am affected by the space.. it thrills me". His mind is shaped by his environment and he in turn represents his environment is ways that have never been seen before
I enjoyed watching Hockney paint in his field environment. It gave me a sense of how he immerses himself in the landscape he is painting and how he sees and feels and then makes his mark using his tools and his medium. I was intrigued and I kept searching YouTube for more clips of him painting. I was infected by his quiet enthusiasm for digital painting on the ipad - he made it look easy, which I guess is the mark of a good teacher - someone who eases the challenge of learning. I thought I'd like to try and paint something and I looked up how he used his ipad to paint. Then I found a lovely clip by Jeannie Mellersh who showed me that one of the ways we can understand someone's practice is to try and emulate their practice. In the video clip she explains and demonstrates how she used her ipad to paint his April 28th picture. "I've been looking at David Hockney's exhibition in London showing his I ipad paintings I've recently bought an ipad in order to understand how he painted one say this one on April the 28th [Angie is looking at the catalogue] I have attempted to recreate it on my iPad" This practical down to earth demonstration really helped me understand her practice and david's practice as an ipad painting craft.
I was so inspired by Jeanie's demonstration that I borrowed my wife's ipad, downloaded a paint app and had a go for myself. Its a finger digital painting of my garden and I enjoyed making it so much that I am going to invest in some digital brushes. On a small scale this is an example of being inspired to do something I'd never done before and it came from two people sharing their practice. The advanced practitioner shared his passion and revealed the beauty in the landscapes I sometimes take for granted. The competent practitioner showed me how simple it was to learn the techniques and that gave me the confidence and will to try for myself. The result was satisfying and it felt creative to me (but not necessarily anyone else although my wife felt it was). I can now see the potential in the medium for doing more. I am not a complete beginner, I have drawn and painted off and on throughout my life but not in the last 18 years. I guess this proves to me that, in some areas of practice, we can be creative and productive with relatively little knowledge and skill but to get good at it we have to practise, practise, practise..
Garden & Beyond Notes