What I really meant to say.

Dear Monty,

I walked the coal tip above the house and garden. A fresh breeze blew off the distant sea funneling Spring air up the valley, the birds responded by singing territorial songs.
Even the coal tip looked dazzling after the rain, light bounced off foliage, coal and the cans and plastic bottles thrown carelessly by trial bikers - a complete contrast to my previous two days in the Metropolis.

Yesterday I sat in the V&A the morning after the thinkingardens.co.uk supper organised by Lucy Masters and Anne Wareham, drinking tea with Sue whilst listening to a piano recital.

During the discussion there seemed to be two camps forming, one that extolled gardens and design, and those who favoured gardening and 'how to'. Although there seemed to be division, there was a common thread, a connection between the two - creativity. It seemed to me that if creativity is explored both in design and in horticulture, in gardening and making gardens then we may begin to get excited.

I got excited by seeing the beautiful sketches by Samuel Palmer, Stanley Spencer and William Blake in the V&A, also the prints and paintings in the Asian gallery.
What excited me was that you could see the artists enjoyment of the process of making through the free flowing marks they made. They were not afraid to make mistakes, because that is part of the process of creativity.

Discovery and learning was tangible in these works, they were the response by the artists to the things that stimulated them emotionally and visually. I believe this is the key, it links both the 'how to' and the 'art and design' camps. The divine spark is the excitement to be found in freedom of expression. It is always up to the individual how far they wish to develop this.

Another point made was that 'great' art and gardens were made at the behest of the rich, and that is undoubtedly true, and will probably remain so, but in truth, creativity belongs to us all.


(apologies for the poor photographs)


  1. Methinks thou dost apologise too much. The photos are fine (as is you being a bit religious)! Just remember to include one of sheep in every post!

    Your comments about the supper are interesting. Whilst it is very true that the great gardens were commissioned by the wealthy, I wonder how long this will actually continue. The number of blank canvasses for garden designers will eventually run out and is it acceptable that a process of creativity can only follow one of destruction, obliterating an earlier creation or at least adapting it so much that the result is little better than destruction. How often now is a "new" garden ripped out to get back to the original design of those like Jekyll? And we hear enough about original paintings being found under newer ones; presumably the artist ran out of canvasses. Will "creativity" be replaced with "reinstatement"?

    1. John, thank you for the comment, yes I do apologise too much ! What you say about the process of creativity being followed by destruction was discussed at the supper. It seems that it is not easy to criticise the destruction of gardens by following generations, because to do so as an 'insider' could be costly to that individuals career. I hope creativity is never replaced with anything else. Creativity is an intrinsic part of who we are, and although it gets stifled by curriculums and government dictat because it is seen as low down the priority list, it is fundamental to our ability to express and communicate our innermost thoughts.

  2. Sounds like you had a very inspiring day with the people you met and the art work you saw. I also enjoy seeing an artist's sketch, sometimes more than the finished piece. I love seeing how they work to get the right line, those creative mistakes that drive our processes forward. I read a lovely one liner this morning that I think is apt for your blog, 'The death of creativity is perfection.'


    1. Wow Eleanor, that quote sums it up for me. Perhaps that is why I find the work of Jeff Koons so unsettling, it is a form of perfection in Kitsch !


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