As a child, escaping into the garden and nearby fields was life’s main purpose. Here the imagination could run riot in a world of building dens and dreams of happiness. My adult environment is no less inviting.
Gravitating towards the outdoors, to appreciate the different experiential opportunities offered by the natural environment has continued to be a recurrent theme throughout the decades and is evident in current practice.
Botany became an interest during the teenage years, but later there was a greater attraction to the aesthetic and nurturing qualities of the outdoors and also a desire to gain sustainable skills such as cultivating plants for food. Alongside noting the curiosities of colours and forms of the flora and fauna, aspects of aesthetics and wellbeing are now to the fore and processes of practice arise from such interests and activities.
The garden is now the workspace. It is the place where the processes of practice for this research are initiated and practised. Observation and experimentation happen there, in the everyday. Outdoors is the preferred option, providing protection against excessive wind, rain, sleet, sun and over exertion are heeded to ward off the inevitable consequences of carelessness – migraines, sore throats, nausea and fatigue!
Working in my garden is akin to creating physical sketches. Tools and equipment are as essential to me, as brushes and palettes are to anyone who paints.
My practices of process can produce immediately satisfying outcomes, but more often than not it means months of what some might describe as, ‘faffing about’. This play however, involves paying attention to the materials and the environment: noting the balance between stability and instability and alterations over a period of time; altering positions; sampling different processes to see what happens to various materials in range of circumstances, under different constraints and to understand why some ideas work – and others don’t.
This workspace environment is a living, ever changing shared wildlife habitat and a family garden. As always, practice is constrained by physical capacity and family needs but the processes go ahead whenever the opportunity arises and – whatever the day brings.