Saturday, 30 November 2013

Why didn't I think of this before ?

Dear Monty,

I feel a bit lost, floating in the blogging sea.

This all started innocently enough, friends encouraged me to share some of my journal ramblings and so I did. I wrote to you because I have spent a great chunk of my life watching TV, and because I love gardening. I have watched GW for years. What really made me write to you specifically though were your thoughts on depression shared in your book 'The Jewel Garden', and I identify with the fact that gardens can be places of healing. But of late I have found a sense of inferiority and dissatisfaction creeping into my mind.

I have just got in after clearing up the mossy grass of its oak leaves, which made the space look messy. It is a bit like hoovering a carpet, all looks clean and fresh afterwards. The messiness is compounded by it being such a small garden space. It was this thought that turned on a light bulb in my messy head, why am I worrying about my garden being small ? Small man syndrome ??

I feel as though I have lost some integrity somewhere along the line. I used to be ignorant of the gardening and horticultural fraternity, but the more I read and listen to the debates about gardening and horticulture, the more distanced I feel from the reality of living in this place, a 'deprived' area in the old coalfields of South Wales. But it is not deprived of its own kind of beauty.

The majority of the discussions and debates and gardens are those belonging to the middle-class. Ordinary people, whatever we are, or those who cannot afford to buy many plants or have small gardens and arty leanings are not catered for in general. You have consistently shown how you can save money on plants, and often illustrate what can be done in small spaces as Longmeadow is divided into small areas. Now that is an interesting thought to me because many large gardens are divided up into smaller intimate spaces, perhaps because that is what our restless minds need? We did have a brief moment in gardening TV with Alys Fowler sharing a year in her small back garden. It was a productive and beautiful small space. One of the older gardening books I refer to, and one which has influenced my sense of design was specifically about small spaces, so smallness is not a bad thing.

I am jealous of those who have larger spaces, I do have a chip resting heavily on my shoulder, but this has only come about because I have wandered into the wider gardening world. I was once happy with my lot and plot. In short I should have stayed where I belonged.

Looking around my strange and very personal space on the side of a scruffy hill below a coal tip, I yearn to get back to just enjoying it for what it is. I will still watch gardening programs and visit other gardens and read garden blogs, but with a view to my own space without being foolish enough to compare it with other gardens.

My problem is I am a dreamer.


Tuesday, 26 November 2013

More thoughts from the coal tip

Dear Monty,

It seems that whatever cause we believe in there are many more convinced that what we believe in is wrong.
This right and wrong, this tension is just a part of what it is to be human. Was the past better than the present ? And will the future be different ? Well it seems that we remain the same, our basic instincts, moods and emotions remain unchanged, even if the context changes.

I will miss your presence on Twitter. I think we should all have a voice and Twitter allows for that even if it does open us up to critics.

I have been painting and drawing a lot recently due to having sick leave. I haven't done so much work since my time at Artspace Portsmouth. I miss being a full-time artist.

I want to confess that I was wrong about conceptual art in a previous post. Why do I say that ? I suggested that the idea being the main thing was somehow the antithesis to beauty. Having watched Tracey Emin discuss the work of Louise Bourgeois and her exploration through drawing, painting, writing and sculpture of life with its tensions and fears, completely changed my mind. Her work was beautiful, the beauty was in her seeming ferociousness and vulnerability.

I realise that being partisan to one version of 'beautiful' art I am negating the validity of the whole range of human experience. I was moved by her last series of drawings/prints about her journey into death.
Her integrity was her light.


Sunday, 17 November 2013

Just pictures

No words today, just pictures taken on my phone of a lovely weekend re balancing the mind.


Tuesday, 12 November 2013

From the coal tip - thoughts on painting, endings and charismata


Dreams become like mists that disappear.

I have made a painting of the Quarme valley near Wheddon Cross on Exmoor. It is a painting of a memory of the place. It tries to capture the strange sense of humanity - of its human scale - its sense of man and landscape working together. The river valley is surrounded by cattle and sheep grazed hills. The high moor lit by sudden light in the distance - the depth and darkness of the river cutting its way through the hills.The sky with its fast shifting clouds.

I'm not sure of its merit, other than it pleases me when I look at it.

I have started a series of  these paintings, all fresco (watercolour, oil, pencil on plaster) based on our recent visit to Exmoor. Sketches were made in my journal and used as a basis for the paintings along with my written notes. They are a reflection therefore on the place, and not an accurate depiction.

Having listened to a voice from my Portsmouth Polytechnic art student days ( Reith Lectures given by Grayson Perry who was a year ahead of me and way out in front in terms of the challenges thrown out by his work) I have reflected on his comments about the direction in which 'contemporary art ' is going. Most artists operate in the realm of the conceptual, rather than developing a craft or skill, this was true back in the early 80's, but it has become all pervading. The idea has become the main currency rather than a starting point, and it is taken to its intellectual limit, the more obscure the better. But I believe art can be beautiful, should I keep that a secret ? I believe the making of it is pleasurable, and there is no shame in trying to show that pleasure and passing on the gifts of the beauty that can still be found in the physical world. My art is second rate because it has to be intellectual to have any merit or currency in the 'art world'.
But that is OK.

Whilst standing on the coal tip above this valley, I have been thinking about endings. I suppose the fact that we remember the war dead and those who have been scarred by war, and the awful tragedy of tsunami's storms and land slides, forces the thought of death upon us. 'The end of all things is near' is a hard thing to understand in our natural minds. But all things must have an ending as they also had a beginning. It is only when we can step outside of our mode of thinking that the world revolves around us, that we are somehow the centre of the universe, that we can begin to see that it can end. A mark of our small-mindedness is that of the belief that we will go on forever, and that wealth and health can be a permanent state on this planet.
We will continue to be sold the idea that it can, and politicians and the wealth generators will believe it too - because they can see no other way and really have no answers because they are tied down to the belief that wealth and health are linked to financial prosperity.

That is all from the coal tip for now.


Sunday, 3 November 2013

Light and momentary troubles

Dear Monty,

The recent rumblings in the social media networks about GW are probably justified in that it is the only mainstream gardening programme available to those people that still watch a television.

Technology is moving faster than I care to these days, so I still enjoy the slower pace of such programmes on t.v. Even if occasionally it sends me to sleep.

'Real' gardeners don't watch GW I am reliably informed, so that confirms my suspicion that I am only a gardener in my fantasy life.

Here are a few pictures of my garden that I do not garden, taken yesterday in high winds with our ugly house in the background.

There is a lot wrong with it, too much grass/weeds now that it has lost the overarching branches of the Pine. It needs reshaping and reforming, this is all part of the enjoyment for me, like making a painting...

I am beginning to feel better, my mind no longer in a negative spin, the emotions balanced.