Friday, 29 March 2013

Vesuvius and the virtual garden

Dear Monty,

An explosion of pyroclastic proportions
Up from the depths
Frustration pent up
The gas of conflagration -
Fire and brimstone.

I struggle to control the frustration I feel.

What would the stones have cried out ?
Would they have cried ; 'Save!'?
Or would they have cried a lament, a loud wail as they watched the agent of their release about to suffer ?

The title given by men to Luke chapter 19 is : 'The triumphal entry'

There was in fact very little to be triumphant about. Here was Christ entering the City of Jerusalem knowing our true hearts and what was to become of both him and the glittering city.
Jonah saw a city spared after reluctantly preaching repentance, but Christ knew this city was heading for destruction, because they were about to take out the capstone.

The stones could indeed have cried out. He defended those followers that did cry out because of the miracles they had seen, but it was a short-lived joy. Joy based solely on miracles usually is.
Soon the memory of the miracles in those minds faded when the trouble came, and I in no way blame them as I am the same. I know my own heart.

The amazing thing about Christ is that he accepts the weak in spirit, whereas we are always looking for evidence in each other of  'power'.

Christ accepted the man who could not even look up, let alone lift his hands up in praise in the temple, why ? Because he could see his own heart.

He accepted the dishonest tax collector, the Gentile woman looking for crumbs and the returning son, downcast and humiliated by his own stupidity.

These Christ accepted.

We are not Pharisees, just because we are silent. We are struggling with life and faith. We go into our rooms and quietly give thanks. It is what is on the inside, not what is on the outside that counts. Perhaps that is what he meant by the Kingdom of God not being visible.

Now that this Vesuvius has erupted again, the pressure is off.

Thinking of gardens helps. It was the exhibition of fresco's from Pompeii which gave me the idea of using fresco panels (larger than my orchid fresco's), to depict the garden over the seasons, a kind of virtual coal tip cloister garden. Recording the arrivals and departures of flora and fauna, the change in character. A documentary in plaster of the insects, birds and flora found in this little patch of ground.

This gives me the courage to carry on.


Saturday, 23 March 2013

Letter about Egypt

Dear Monty,

Time marches backwards, it is in a state of flux with your garden looking warm while today it is cold. All this is due to filming schedules.

Time is a strange concept, this week we saw photographs of the beginning of the universe, taken now but looking back over unfathomable units of time.

Words transcend time.

I watched  'Life and Death in the the valley of the Kings' with Joann Fletcher last night.

Egyptians lived in terraced houses with plastered walls painted with images. They had pots and jars containing oils, perfumes and eye-liner. They had cold storage and built-in ovens.

There was a huge grain store which reminded me of the ones described in the Bible built under the guidance of Joseph during the good years before the famine.

There were papyrus illustrations of eroticism which reminded me of Potiphars' wife and her longing to bed Joseph.

Here on my Egyptian bed - my sarcophagus - I lay embalmed with oil lamp and the alabaster jar of spikenard.

Egypt was good for Joseph and the Nation of Israel. Through their experiences there both good and bad they grew towards an understanding of God.

I read of the exasperation of Christ with the loss of that understanding, and wonder if in my generation that is the case too. Perhaps in the end it is as simple as the stars.

The garden is held back by cold soil and cold wind, time again stands still.

Sorry about the legs.


Saturday, 16 March 2013

Letter about Transfiguration

Dear Monty,

I have started a new series of paintings to prepare for the Orchid Festival later in the year at :


The transformation of caterpillar to butterfly remains one of the few remaining mysteries of life.

Today I read about transfiguration, and realise that this process happens in front of our eyes and sometimes we hardly even notice.

The garden was transfigured, a veil of rain lit by the sun - behind which were the muted early buds of Spring.
A watercolour of reds, pale yellows, rusts and greens, with birds - pigeon, robin, blackbird and bullfinch all moving through the veil of light.

The value of transfiguration is in its fleeting nature, it is all the more powerful and beautiful for it.

The Kingdom is here in the call of crow and the sudden light of showers.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Letter about painting and the garden

Dear Monty,

There are great artists who never really shouted about their art, but just got on and made it because they had a love and passion for making it. Winifred Nicholson was one of those artists. I love her sense of composition, light and colour. She is one of my all time favourite painters. When I visit the Nat. Museum of Wales in Cardiff, I make a pilgrimage to visit one of her paintings in the flesh. I stand before it and feel the breeze and the energy of the water. I admire her obvious ability to transmit life and energy through paint into my heart.

One of my treasured possessions is this book by Christopher Andreae.

I cannot paint like that, but I strive to capture something of the energy of life to this day. I have not given up yet.

I am attempting a second portrait of an artist, it is in the early raw stages of watercolour directly painted on a rough plaster surface. It has yet to be resolved, but it is to do with the person, the life within.

I am glad that anyone can enjoy this and can explore their world in this way. Just like making a garden, there are underlying skills to learn, but once those are grasped then anything is possible.


Thursday, 7 March 2013

Letter to Monty on walking in the garden

Dear Monty,

Here I am with my middle class pretensions - sitting in the 'salon rouge' listening to Baroque music and sipping Earl Grey - when in truth I am a pleb in a house with a dodgy roof. I should be in work caring for the sick, but have been ill myself.

Dawn came up below the garden, the moist air lit the trees in a golden light.
I feel guilt for being here in my sanctuary.

I read of  'a light for revelation and a glory to Israel'

I suppose I have taken those words and taken them down into the depths of me. Others may be amazed, alarmed, quizzical or dismissive. The difference and the only difference between those reactions and mine is that I allowed them to take root in my heart, which is the beginning of a journey of discovery as well as an end. Everything else becomes unimportant. In the light, my doubts, sin, failure and the failure of 'religion' - everything- the world its deviousness and subterfuge - the deviousness and subterfuge of my heart all become insignificant - unimportant.

There are many that say original sin is a nonsense - I cannot intelligently argue the case. I just know within myself is the potential for both good and evil - for love and hatred - we see it displayed before us daily.

Messiah the glory of Israel and the light to all peoples is not uprooted from me because of failure or the troubles of either church or state, although on the surface of me you would probably never be able to tell. In a place that will not be found by scientists or doctors - not even on cutting me up after death - is a place that exists beyond time where the light is. Mary who gave birth to Messiah treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Christ goes beyond  failures, beyond division, beyond every known thing that would trouble us on this earth, his spirit runs with the antelope and the ancient horses, he takes us back to the beginning of ourselves, he walks in the garden in the cool of the day.

No offence meant.


Saturday, 2 March 2013

Letter to Monty : Looking for signs of life in the Co-op

Dear Monty,

I have just read the blog of Alison Levey  on signs of life in her garden. I too have been searching for the same signs this past week and like Alison, I found them in the garden.

28/2/13  Two years ten months and counting.
               The cold wind remains
                 Stars out
                  Wind and stars in sweeps and curls
                      Around cheek and jawline
                         A beauty not mine.

Remember 4 pots !

2/3/13 Forgotten the meaning of 4 pots ! Like forgetting plants from the previous year in the garden. The cold and barren borders have become like my mind today.
This heart of mine is cold. We are separated only in the mind. Only the mind creates seduction, willfulness, coldness and love. All these things spring from the 'heart'.

I have been smelling the death of bees - they have a peculiar smell when they die. They are dying in the chimney, although some remain alive and fly when the air warms up outside. Death is so much on my mind, perhaps because I am reading another Henning Mankell novel. I also think of the death of a friend called Rob. I think of the empty tomb.

I am slow to love - slow to live, slow to be engaged. The separation continues. It seems almost inevitable this separation from the body - like dying.

Only now the sun breaks out above the trees - and Christ rises in my heart.

Confession is good for the soul Monty.