Saturday, 24 November 2012

Letter to Monty. Trees and Storms

Dear Monty,

I agree that well crafted words can create pictures, I am not so good with words but nevertheless I continue to write and make pictures.

'....his heaving breast and shaken form had long yielded to the calm that must follow all storms - emblem to humanity of the rest and silence into which the storm called life must hush at last.'
Charles Dickens


Our grandchild moves towards birth, I move towards death, the earth moves towards its purpose.

The single cell to countless cells.

The beginning and end.

The sheer beauty of it.


Sophie is here upon the face of this jewel earth.

The garden decays into Winter, back to its bones, bones that will once again be clothed with life.
The trees rest.
The grass has now become weeds. No digging or spraying, I just mow the weeds in Spring. Still it forms a green carpet under trees. Sometimes I dig out the dandelions if they halt my eye, but that is for later.
For now the bones help me to see the garden.

A collaboration between felled tree, my son and coal measure fossils create a simple sculpture reminding me of the Ancient of Days, the cycle of life.

' His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away.'


Sunday, 18 November 2012

Letter to Monty - the garden sleeps as I sleep

Dear Monty,

Three 'poems'


Let us pray

Let us Judge

Let us kill with the 'moral' high ground

Let us fire rockets

Target individuals

Let us defend the faith with swords

Jealousy consumes me

How foolish I am.


The toil of the soil

Writing books while gardens sleep

While I sleep

Sustainable energy ?

The turbines stand motionless - yet more appear on the hills

The waterfalls pound down the valley

Once turning mill wheels and looms

Wood burned.

We then dug coal

Hollowed out mountains

Then came welfare and unemployment

Are we too many with too much ?

I always want more.

'Ah how fleeting

Ah how futile'


There will be another river which flows from a new valley

There will be trees in this garden

With leaves for healing

And fruit

And in the river will be

Fishes in abundance.


Monday, 12 November 2012

Letter to Monty with a fuddled head

Dear Monty,

Remembering 11/11/12

Walking the waterfall woodland of Ystradfellte with Charles Hawes.

We saw the  sheer beauty and power of water cutting through rock - of trees grasping soil through shaped formed roots following rock contours. Colour blazed now and then - orange yellow red. Green tinge to the back of a red-breasted robin.

Mud - thundering water - waterproofs proved.

No proof or evidence for faith.

The curse is knowledge - knowledge is the curse - we know too much.

Remembering  - not the fallen dead

Though I do remember them - but do not stop - no silence.

Remembering the pain that knowledge brings

From having minds which contemplate both good - and evil

Which understand and misunderstand

Judge and misjudge

Knowing that life is finite and full of fears - joy - tears.

It means we watch ourselves grow old

Remembering youth - energy

But perhaps old age is another stage

Set for playing out  a role

'Senior citizen'

Holder of secrets - of wisdom

Knowing failure and success

Knowing the bones of ourselves

Knowing the good we have done - as well as the evil.

Perhaps we are making ready for the grave

Some do not go gently - some rage

But now - right now I am resolved

Centred by death and life - anothers' death  - the death of death and life of life

This is my remembrance day.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Letter to that man again

Dear Monty,

'Recalled to Life'

I have discovered some of my old drawings from the early eighties, when I had just started the Fine Art Degree at Portsmouth. I searched them out because a friend reminded me of my love of trees.

God moves through people in a kind of energy - a living energy that points to the source of all living things. It was this energy that I recognised first in trees ! It sounds mad but once I started to see the power of this energy, I could see it everywhere.

I could see it in the movement of ships through water, through the energy of our activities.

Through our bodies our movement.

Looking back on these drawings makes me sad, because I seem to have lost that energy in my artwork and maybe my life now, but I still see it in the hills, in the cycle of the seasons, even out of our kitchen window. I also see it in the paintings of Van Gogh and others who see beyond the obvious.

You said on Gardeners' World something like - 'Knowing your garden intimately is in the end more important than horticultural knowhow' I believe this with all my heart, and I believe it applies to life, to faith, to love, knowing intimately is more important than knowledge.


Sunday, 4 November 2012

Letter to Monty

Dear Monty,

Grand designs and discovery.

31/10/12 Watched 'Grand Designs' filmed on the Isle of Skye. I remembered those amazing landscapes and quickly changing weather. I distinctly remember watching water plumes like smoke being blown from the burn back up the hill opposite the loch we stayed at. I have lost all my photographs of that holiday, all I have now are precious memories and some sketches and a couple of paintings, all the more precious for the loss, but not a jot more precious than the beauty of the place.

The place is life affirming, the house constructed during the film, was not grand but small - it locked into its landscape. The mountains dominate and dwarf the buildings on Skye.

2/11/12 Racing cold clouds - cold rain after a cold night with hailstones. Bright and breezy and no eggs from the chickens. I enjoyed the 'pootling' on Gardeners' World.

3/11/12 Bright cloudy sky - white topped hills - dog walked, leaves raked and a few remaining grapes fed to the chickens.
We travelled to Hay on Wye to buy bacon and some rhubarb and ginger jam. There was real art in the gallery windows and big cars in the car park.
Home to the valley, the Darren mountain dark above the gold trees. Autumn into Winter. Cig Moch and crusty bread with mediterranean pickle for supper. Whippet on lap and a good coffee.

Our neighbour was admitted to hospital and we were unaware, there was no hint of change, the routine was the same, the mountain remained dark, the trees on the 'patches' stood like burnt matchsticks against the cold sky. Pepsi the pony stomped his ground in the rain, the pigs in the wood, the rusting sheds, the sliding slag and the piercing bark of Llew barking at the night air. This life can be cruel to the best of neighbours.

I discover my Welsh garden over and over again - I see it every now and then. The familiar small plot suddenly becomes new and alive. Each season each new year it grows in stature and becomes more defined - I begin to see what I would want it to be.

It may be a small intimate space - but it is a theatre - a performance space with entrances and exits and no statuary save for trees. The drama is provided by the light, and from me pootling from time to time - cutting here hacking there - re-aligning seeing possibilities and admitting defeats.

The landscape becomes part of us if we let it.