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Pathway Through the Wood

Walking Blind the Night of the CometPathway Through the WoodThis morning I thought about a pen and ink drawing I did years ago titled “Walking Blind the Night of the Comet”. It’s dated 14th April 1997 so the comet must have been Hale Bopp, the Great Comet of 1997. I’d been invited by a friend to go to Devil’s Dyke in the South downs to take photos at night. Fortunately the night was clear and we had good views. I have a photo of the comet somewhere as a faint smudge of light, but here is the drawing I did a few days later.

I’ve looked a lot at the work of Samuel Palmer one of my favourite artists. I love his sepia, moonlit scenes; like him I have put the moon in many pictures. I feel drawn to black and white drawings and photos, and enjoyed looking at the small sketchbooks of Julien Bell in a current exhibition at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery called Dreams of Here. The exhibition also features works by Tom Hammick and Andrzej Jackowski. I was interested in seeing Tom’s work as the flier read that he “uses landscape as his starting point, but a landscape shaped by memories and dreams”. I’m becoming increasingly drawn to landscapes both inner and outer and how they feature in art and literature. Tom Hammick’s work did not disappoint and I appreciated his dark scenes of trees, figures and obscure imagery as well as his vivid colours.

Feeling inspired by my old drawing, Samuel Palmer and the exhibition, I decided to visit some local woods in Brighton and look at trees and paths. I like paths. Paths are worn with stories. I took photos but my creative result is a pen and ink sketch from my imagination featuring a crescent moon once again! I’ve named it “Pathway Through the Wood“. The spindly trunks and coils of bramble stand out at the moment, late winter, hence the swirls in the foreground.

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Art in the woods

Face sculpture at Hannah PescharReflection in sculpture at Hannah PescharReflecting triangle sculpture at Hannah PescharGreen sculpture at Hannah PescharI visited Hannah Peschar sculpture garden in Surrey recently. It is a beautiful setting for sculpture with plenty of water everywhere. I took photos of several pieces I liked – a giant rusting face/mask; metal triangles that reflected the environment so well they were almost invisible; a metal ball that was like a crystal ball and a green marble-like statue that blended in perfectly with its surroundings. (I’ve used part of a metal ball photo to change my blog header, I thought it sums up the changeable autumn weather.)

My favourite piece was a sound installation by Robert Jarvis. Walking beside the Japanese Maple, the Umbrella Bamboo, the Silverbell Tree and the Giant Rhubarb – all growing around the Oriental Pond – music starts to play. One can’t see where it is coming from. Robert Jarvis created the music based on patterns derived from the DNA sequences of the plants and the processes that determine their growth and ageing. The result is simple and interesting. You can here the music here.

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Moving, dancing and fragments of the sea

Mud MaidWe’re emerging from a long, bleak winter, Spring is nearly here and I yearn to move. I have felt like the Mud Maid in The Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall, taking her long sleep in the earth. The figures in my pictures are stiff too, like winter, but now its time to stir and move.

I felt the desire to dance and move return to me strongly when I picked up a flyer the other day about an exhibition at my local library in Brighton, 14th-27th March that’s called “Inside My Dance”. The exhibition tells through oral history, photography and film the story of the dancer and choreographer Angela Lane and how every aspect of her life was affected by her daughter’s profound disability. It is a collaboration between Angela and oral historian and photographer Noelle McCormack. The film is of dancer, Holly Holt, dancing a piece choreographed by Angela entiltled “For Cherry”. You can see a short trailer here.

Moving and writing can go together. I found some words I’d written in a movement workshop taken by Miranda Tufnell called “Body, Space, Image” (like the title of her book). I’ve made them into more of a poem:
Seaweed

Moving with the Tide
I lie open
Hands the fronds of seaweeds shifting in shallows.
Rolling I greet the studio’s wooden floor,
And catch a warm light cascade from high windows
Aswim with a thousand moat boats.

Sinuous my spine,
Pebbles my vertebrae.
Starfish, wave, anemone,
Salt, snakelock, dahlia.

I rest, a little drunk on backwash
While the tide slips over and spills me back into ocean-swallowed waters
And the pipes on the wall become pillars of the pier,
Strong and steely red with tommorrow’s rust,
And I cling encrusting like coral or the all-muscle of barnacle,
Pulling the earth.

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