Saturday, 31 December 2011

The end of this blog

It's New Year's Eve and been thinking about the past year and the year to come (as you do) and decided to close this particular blog at this point. My 2011 residency at the Botanic Garden is complete and in 2012 I will be concentrating on other matters.

I can only call it Botanic Dreaming...staying local and exploring the wonders of a Botanical Garden has meant my memories of the year of full of the sights, scents and colours there. It's been inspiring  as well as providing a chance to learn more about the evolution of plants.

I've really enjoyed writing the's addictive...

tomorrow ...

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Dug out of the soil

The plaques are now out of the garden and looking a little frazzled. A sad day for me as now it is November and the end of the season. I'm wondering where I can take the water theme...

Thinking about the need for water – what comes up?

-       a glass shelf, with a glass turned upside down on it

-       with the title

‘This is not an oak tree’.
Thank you Michael Craig Martin, thank you Renee Magritte.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

How far?

I've been experimenting with mark making to see how far an image can deteriorate before it becomes illegible.

From sketchbook etching 12 x16cm to screen print 70 x 48cms. 

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Wrapping up

Looking back on the blog I can see there have not been many photos of the garden...the light was amazing the other day..slanting through the garden.  Plants are being wrapped up/prepared  for the winter.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

At the exhibition

Secret life of pots (one of the sketchbook etchings) now has a life beyond the studio...selected for the Royal West of England Academy (RWA) Autumn Open Exhibition. RWA location and opening times
I like to think of them in their shed though.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Putting them all together

Botanic dream...I've produced this as a digital print but it forces me to this statement art? Probably. Does including words automatically mean a statement/narrative? Yet artists that I admire such as Jenny Holzer and, for different reasons, Bob and Roberta Smith, and artists such as Tracey Emin, all use words that imply narrative and statement. So...busy planning screen prints and lithographs with layers of concealment. I shall curl up and hide behind them and not say a word. Although took part in a workshop this weekend on writing the object. I now have attained enlightenment about the haikus in the garden. Writing the haikus was a performative act in response to the phenomenological event of the garden.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Next step..print on top!

Been having fun overprinting and then adding some hand-printed letter press...just one more to do again...don't know why SEED should be so difficult!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

From small to large

Just a small section from large drawing inspired by the sketchbook print. How is it that objects always turn into personalities that have relationships? They are, they be and then they become..

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

The thing about gardens

is, they change all the time. Thinking I would upload another haiku pic I realised that the garden has taken over, and now, if you are at this spot the plants have grown all around. The Western Herb Garden was amazing last week...the four quarters absolutely bursting with plants at various stages of their life cycles.
Sketched with a very light pencil! There's was so much there.

The haiku looks different from this photo taken in May..
Garden, round, quartered,
from mound to spike, leaf and root
potions, salves and scents.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

In the potting shed

There is a giant potting shed at the Botanic Garden where all the seeds, cuttings etc are started off and the tools live in between use. They're rather like the toys in the bedroom - left behind but ready to leap into action!

The sketchbook etching series is coming to its conclusion...just one or two more...who knows?

 The terracotta plant pots...complete with limescale.

A spade convocation..

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Hamish Fulton walk

Folkestone Triennial and lots of inspiring site specific works to visit...but I was just thinking that actually, while the works are extremely interesting, it's Folkestone itself that also becomes the work of art. The sketch was done while taking part in a Hamish Fulton walk - 100 of us walking very slowly across 3m of tarmac towards the shingly beach, with a view of the English Channel. No talking said the artist so actually everyone was silent for the whole hour. This ended with the solemn note of AK Dolven's bell that is sited next to the sea between two steel poles for the public to ring.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Time and place

The summer blues:

Hiding in my den
oaks loom. Me, counting slowly
trying to stretch time.

Tucked away in the meadow at the garden..will people leave the path and reach this haiku? Will they look? Does it matter? 
Next week going to the Folkestone Triennial - lots of site specific art around the town. Can't wait to ride in the water powered funicular up the cliff and listen to Martin Creed's contribution/walk on the Dover cliffs and eat fish and chips on the beach. Cut through reality? Holiday.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Trees and pyramids

Following on from the last sketch, experimenting with open bite (exposing parts of the plate to acid). Just revisiting what is so attractive about etching for me ..the mixture of chemistry/ timing/ and the sheer physicality of working in light/dark...all the mystique of old fashioned photography (yes lots of washing but plates not prints) without being stuck in a dark room. And at the end turning a handle to produce a print through the analogue press.  (Not that I don't absolutely love my computer).

A garden in summer? It has to be roses!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

From a distance

In the sketchbook prints  I've tended to concentrate on the closeup. So feeling like a different perspective I took large sheets of paper, weighted down on the path with stuff I had with me and drew standing up bending over. It was hot..fantastic (the ink dried quickly).

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Wheat and more

Giant horsetails and now wheat - big time and futures...

Spring wheat grassy shoots -
will gem grains swell and harden?
Look - our daily bread.

Sunday, 29 May 2011


It was tricky placing the ten haikus carefully between the plants. The panels will change as the summer goes on, some plants will grow more/flower, change colour.The sun will create different shadows from the panels themselves and from surrounding foliage.

Opening times and location

Friday, 27 May 2011

Today's the day

Feeling a little stressed as today the haikus will be placed in the garden.
Plus a new addition to the sketchbook print collection - Berthe, one of the volunteer gardeners, was wearing a hat as it was sunny.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

The challenge of process

 It has been challenging working on the woodworking for the display of the haikus. The early decision to use recycled wood and the choice I use hardwood plywood that just happened to be flame retarded has meant multiple difficulties in my search to be a sustainable artist.

The flame retardant meant I could not use sustainable water based varnish. I used nutshell varnish on the supports and underneath but I now find that this will go black in the rain. This means it will have to be polyurethane for the display surface.

The flame retardant also meant I could not glue the board to the wooden support - and this meant screws..more dilemmas of choice. The solution was 2 discreet black slotted screws with the slots all facing the same way as the grain of the wood. And so it goes. 
Placement in the garden will be this week ...

Meanwhile I have continued working on the sketchbook prints- this one inspired by the irises that have flowered and then gone.

And a second inspired by the shadows of the meadow plants on my sketchbook.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Playing around

Having had a digital morning preparing the texts of the haikus for laser etching using Illustrator, I have spent the afternoon playing around digitally with the sketchbook prints - perhaps for future production as screen prints or to be printed out as digital prints. Colour at last!

Otherwise I'm becoming fainthearted...the actuality of producing the boards and the supports for the haikus is taxing my limited woodworking skills. As I try to be a sustainable artist I sourced the wood for these from the Bristol Woodstore - it has come as waste from building and demolition sites in the local area. Sourcing sustainable wood varnish (to protect it) is currently being researched by the Natural Paint Store.

Monday, 2 May 2011

And another thing

The irises were amazing this all stages of flower from tight bud to papery finish with all their sheen of life between. This was a very quick pen sketch of their liveliness and will need further development for a sketchbook print. The clumps of the white Iris Florentina in the garden are large and spectacular.

For the last month  I have been writing haikus (a form of Japanese poetry of three lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables, with a 'cut' - a change of direction). These have been drafted while I was at the Garden - and I'm still working on them. I am planning to laser etch them onto sustainably sourced plywood (waste from a building site in Ashton Gate) to be placed in the Garden for the summer - placed in the elements for a certain length of time and then removed, for people to see outdoors and not in an art gallery situation. I have experimented with this format before with a haiku, laser etched on plywood, that was placed outside in the winter - it lasted surprisingly well through two months of rain, frost and snow.

Draw grass with charcoal
burnt tree from winter fires -
marking its own time.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Contextual thoughts

The garden is bursting open with the warm spring weather ... this gunnera was just one of the plants powering its way sunward this week. Yet I have been thinking it is time for a slight pause to reflect on the context of the Garden, having been there for a few weeks. It's a little like being an outsider in a huge scheme of things, the University Department, the academics, the curator, the students, the researchers, the gardeners, the volunteers, the friends of the Garden and the visitors - many of whom I have been meeting and talking with over the last two months. Then there is the national and international botanic garden community, liaising, discussing and exchanging information about plants as well as giving and receiving them. (There must be more). And over it all hovers the ghosts of Carl Linnaeus (who designed the double Latin name system for plants), Darwin (evolution of plants) and Hiatt Cowles Baker, who lived at The Holmes - the Botanic Garden surrounds the house.  Hiatt Cowles Baker (1863-1934) was a businessman, alpinist, horticulturalist and plant collector and made the first garden at the Holmes in the 1920s. He plant hunted in the Caucasus, Corsica, Pyranees, Crete, Palestine and the Lebanon. Being aware of all this forces me to see myself as just one more of those people who feel the need to be outdoors with plants. How does this information/knowledge affect what I am doing?
Meanwhile three flying ducks flew twice over the garden, softly hooting. Being there.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Moving on with the multiples

Another two one-take plates -  one of a gardener planting seeds - a composition made up of four individual quick drawings. The eternal past-time of hope.

The second - a banana plant in all its waxy glory.

This is developing into a series of multiple prints..
perhaps a scatter gun approach but forcing a discipline that requires observation for both the drawing and then the plate. Dipping two or three plates in and out of the acid to strict times is like a cross between juggling and cooking!


Friday, 1 April 2011

One take prints

I've become enamoured with the concept of the sketchbook print and am taking it forward with a series of etchings  - all the same small size  - inspired by visits to the garden. The word sketchbook to me denotes a work in progress or working towards - certainly not a finished piece with all that 'finished' entails. Taking this a step further the idea of the 'one take' sketchbook print has taken hold. The magnolias is one of the first batch of 4 etchings that I developed from bare copper plate through line work and aquatinting, dipping in and out of the acid (about 12 times) to check and to modify, but not taking a proof until the print you can see. Sheer heresy in the printmaking world as you are taught to take proofs at every stage! The magnolias have an ethereal air while the prickly bodies below are more...prickly. I'll carry on with these while I'm thinking and planning other schemes..