I have just finished updating a page that shows all work by both Tim and myself, that will be available for sale or loan while we are in Australia. We would rather that our work is on your walls than in the storage unit. So please do take a look and get in touch if there is anything of interest.
The Bluebells that were planted this time last year on Hackney Downs, after their installation at the WW Gallery Patio Projects space, are flowering away quite happily. I very nearly missed them. About a month ago the Parks dept. cut the long grass of their home short, I looked for signs of their leaves but none were to be seen. I fretted that the late cut had hit them hard but in fact I think they weren’t up yet. The warmth of last week has brought them out, the flowers are vibrant blue but starting to fade. I suddenly thought to look today and sure enough, if you take time to look the blue catches your eye.
It’s pleasing to see they are there, we skidded over their dormant bulbs during the frozen months of January and February when snow brought the kids out sledding. I hope they will spread happily amongst the goose grass, dandelion and thistles, with their 3 protective plane trees towering high above, marking the triangle where they sit .
In a deluge…. the installation has come to an end. This morning I removed the bluebells from the WW Gallery Patio and moved them all over to a lovely slope under a canopy of plane trees on Hackney Downs. With the help of Eugene, Anna, Laura, Leo and Francesca the bluebells were gently transferred into planting holes. Looking a little worse for wear, hopefully some of the flowers will now spread some seed and some of the tubers will survive the rigours of flowering and having been transplanted twice. I like to think that in the future a little colony of bluebells will thrive here.
Like German artist Joseph Beuys, who described his planting of 7000 trees in Kassel, Germany in the 1980s as ‘art of the social sculpture’ I am interested to explore ways of bringing creative participation to people, even unwittingly. I had imagined that had lots of people joined in with the planting that many might not even have realised that the plants had already had a former life installed at the WW Gallery Patio. Additionally I hope that the message behind the piece – that of the threat to the native bluebell from hybridisation with the more robust Spanish bluebell and from the effects of earlier spring occurrence due to our changing climate may be communicated. As it was, the terrible weather put off most coming along, which is a great shame as it would have made for a lovely community event. I am grateful for those that did join me, as well as my virtual followers and all those who have wished me well.
The Bluebells have been flowering away but the weather this month has turned out extremely dreary, very wet and none too encouraging to get outdoors sadly. However we need the rain and I hope that this means the drought concerns are alleviated. I’ve not had to worry about watering the plants once. Thank you nature, at least for that.
Despite the weather, the bluebells will be planted out on Sunday, so I hope a few hardy souls might join me. If the weather is terrible it will be done in record time and then we can all repair to The Russet for one of their legendary Sunday Lunches. At least the ground will be nice and soft, not like last year at Mabley Meadow where it was blisteringly hot and the ground was like a rock.
The Bluebells have been in residence for over a week now. They are having a fairly quiet existence, which is a good thing really. Although on Thursday evening there was an impressive hailstorm. A blanket of tiny icy hailstones covered the ground for a good hour in this part of London. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get over to the bluebells to snap them poking though, or perhaps bowed by this natural intervention. When I last saw them on Wednesday they were really coming along. I’ll drop by later today and see what the latest news fro the patio is…
At 4pm yesterday I finished off the planting up of the Bluebells installation. The neighbour’s cat strolled over and carefully picked her way across the bed. No doubt she will be adding her own contributions to the piece as the month goes on. But this is the beauty of work in the public domain. Anything or nothing might happen to it and that is a fundamental part of the process of creating such a piece.
I am also interested to see/hear how people view this piece. In this familiar context the piece looks far more like a garden, we provide our own answers to the challenge of ‘what is it?’ based on our experience and expectations of the front garden patio location. It was an intentionally different matter in the gallery last year. I am happy for this contrast.
Thanks to Chris Rushby-Smith, my one-and-only best brother-in-law for building the raised bed at the Patio today. While I pointed, made suggestions and handed over the occasional screw. And on the first day of his London holiday too. Thank you, thank you!
The raised bed structure has been made with recycled timbers; old trellis panels and 2 palette crates that were holding new roofing slates for a house on our road earlier last week. The compost is coming on Thursday and this is also made from recycled materials composted and 100% peat free. The pots that I grew the Bluebells in came originally from the gardens of the American Embassy, where a friend of mine is a gardener. The Bluebells themselves are native Hyacinthoides non-scripta, from cultivated stock, grown by The English Cottage Garden Nursery. I think it is vitally important that my work adheres to ideas about sustainability and environmental responsibility as best I can.