Category Archives: land art

Gratitude: A Walking Meditation

Some of you might remember that back in the Summer I went to West Dean College on a Land Art course with tutor, Dan Lobb.

I was telling you about my piece of installation land art, centering on a bench, which became a focus for GRATITUDE.

And then my computer started to malfunction and my posts about the installation stopped.

So this post is a bit of a throwback to the summer, just to round things off.

A short meditation walk of gratitude.

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Silly Saturday: Compostable

When I saw the enormous Compost Heap at West Dean, I was reminded of what my son once said:

“You won’t want to be buried, will you Mum, you will want to be composted!”

 

Bench Marks

Continuing the story of the ‘Bench of Gratitude’ Installation at West Dean College.

As I sat on the bench and looked out across the park, the focus of my gaze became the clump of trees in the middle distance.Dan, our tutor, would come round and chat with each of us about what we were creating. He asked if I was thinking of creating something under those trees to link to two places. Hmm … I wandered up there to have a look.

Near to the trees and just behind them is an installation by Andy Goldsworthy ( whom I have found inspiring for a very long time). It is a chalk boulder, surrounded by small chalk stones. You can just see a white dot under the branches of the clump.

This is a photo of the Chalk Boulder I took in December 2021 when I went on a Helen Turner, Wabi Sabi art course.

I picked up a small chalk stone and went back under the clump of trees to look back towards the bench and ponder the next step.

As I stood there it became clear to me that a) I did not want to create something under these trees and b) I could invite others to add to what I was doing at the bench if they would like to.

I do love creative collaboration.

When I got back to the bench, I still had the piece of chalk in my hand and wrote MEMORY        GRATITUDE       CONNECTION

Californian Nutmeg Tree

Unrelated to the true Nutmeg, this Yew had dropped its needles on the path.

Apparently (from searching the internet) the seeds are purple and the kernel is edible after cooking, tasting somewhat like peanuts. They were highly prized by Native Americans.

Material just asking for a second meandering path

I thought of getting a brush to sweep the line of the path clear, but decided to leave the subtlety of the path left by the rake.

Black Feathers, White Flowers

Continuing my account of the Land Art Course with Dan Lobb at West Dean College:

The walk from the bench, to gather the cut grass, took just over 5 minutes each way. The walking and the raking became a beautifully satisfying daily practice, allowing my body to be well exercised and fully part of the installation.

Dan remarked that seeing me raking and trundling backwards and forwards with my wheelbarrow, reminded him of people raking in Japanese gardens. I realised that the same thought had been at the back of my mind and I was so pleased that he had brought it to the forefront.

As you may know, I love most things Japanese and was lucky enough to spend 15 glorious days on a textile tour in 2015. This photograph from that trip came to mind. (If you type ‘Japan’ into the SEARCH box you can see lots of posts about my trip, but here is a link to the first post about it. )

I found I would take one route to the hay and a different route back. Each day and each time of day, offering new things to notice in the garden

There seemed to be an unusual amount of feathers on the ground.

Were the birds moulting in the heat, or were the feathers more noticeable because the grass was so parched, yellow and short? A couple of us began collecting them.

Walking back past this clump of Annabelle Hydrangeas, I couldn’t resist popping a black feather into a few of the white frothy balls.

A little breeze was blowing and the birds who had gifted the feathers were calling in the trees above:

At the time, this was my favourite ‘installation’, if installation it was.

It felt very Japanese – Dan had pressed the Japan button, and I was off!

The video feels to me like a visual haiku. I went to Google translate.

Seeing the words written and hearing how they are spoken,  the title

‘Black Feathers, White Flowers’

seems like poetry to me

Walking the River

Land Art at West Dean College with Dan Lobb

As I gathered the mown grass, I made a meandering path.

When the wheelbarrow was full, I left a mound of ‘hay’ that needed to be stepped over. These mounds gave the walker an opportunity to pause, rather like the turns in a labyrinth.

These are two of my fellow students who kindly let me video them as they walked.

You can see A’s art on Instagram here: @aprilyasamee

and

T’s art on Instagram here : @aweworks

I had only collected 2 barrow loads at the time this video was taken. By the end of the process, I had gathered 9 barrow loads of ‘hay’.

When the project was finished, I walked the ‘River of Hay’ and at each mound spoke of something I was grateful for, before stepping over it.

Gentle tears were falling as I neared the end.

Spending time in a place where all facets of creativity are deeply and profoundly supported is an experience I wish for everyone. Soul food!

Silly Saturday: Playing with Shadows

New hat – Ta Dah!!

Taken in the early morning at West Dean College.

Joining in with Cee’s Challenge: Shadows and Reflections

A Bench of Gratitude

Working with this bench at West Dean College on a Land Art Course, became a very meaningful process for me. It also led me to make other pieces of Land Art in different locations around the garden.

This is the third post about it, you can see the first here and the second here.

The bench is, under a Lime Tree, in the front of the college and therefore seen by all the garden visitors and college students. Not the sort of place I thought I would have chosen at all – but it chose me.

After weaving in the first bunch of grasses, I walked back to the tulip tree to gather more. I counted my steps as I went. It took 150 steps to get from bench to tree.

As I counted out loud, I was reminded of my Welsh maternal Grandfather.

I did not get to sleep easily as a child and he used to pat me whilst counting out loud, very quietly, to help me get to sleep. I could choose how many pats 100, 150 or 200. We had a very close relationship – I had not remembered the patting for years and years. I felt very close to him as I was walking and a feeling of gratitude that I had him in my life, washed over me.

I picked just what I could hold in one hand, walked back and wove the dry grass through the back of the bench. Back for another handful and this time I placed it as a bunch to the left. This referenced sheafs of corn and also flowers left on benches and other places, in memorium.

My intention was to gather more grass to bulk up the sheaf, but after a walk around the garden, I saw some cut grass and decided to gather this to create some sort of spiral or other path, leading to the bench.

As I raked up the cut grass, I made a meandering path, which became my second piece of Land Art.

I came to like the spin off pieces more than what happened around the bench, but if I had not started with the bench the others would not have been created.

Silent Sunday at West Dean

Choosing a place to Create

Land Art Course with Dan Lobb at West Dean.

As I was thinking about coming on the course I decided that my word for the week would be GRATITUDE. In the past, my life having its turbulent phases, when making and spiral, labyrinth or other ephemeral art in nature, I have often used it as a way of focussing the mind on a question, wish or invocation. Now as  I am in a calm and more peaceful time, it is time to acknowledge that and feel truly grateful.

On the first night here at West Dean, I was walking back to my car and was drawn to this bench. I tried to argue against using this as my focus as I had imagined working out in the gardens or woods in a much more aesthetically pleasing spot.

So I wandered around to find other places. Perhaps the dry stream bed in the ornametal  garden?

I could imagine filling the mud cracks with bright yellow leaves to look like gold in kintsugi art

Or could I be inspired by this fence, which had been altered by a fallen tree. Surely those roots would offer a suitable resting place for some ephemeral art.

(Edit: this is the tree that features in my next Post. the photos were taken on the very last morning, just before I drove home)

Or perhaps I could work in this area where there is a recently planted Tulip Tree

But the bench would not let me go. I realised my head was getting in the way of my intuition – so back to the bench …….

It has a memorial plaque to Jill Causer 1948 –  2017 and Joanna Elizabeth Causer 1980 – 2007. I asked at the college if they had any records Jill Causer but they didn’t. I realised she was 69 when she died – I am 69 and if I make it to November, I will not die aged 69 – something to be grateful for.

Joanna could have been Jill’s daughter, dying at the age of 27. I have not lost a child – another traumatic life experience I have been spared. It was becoming clear to me why this bench had called to me to celebrate Gratitude.

The grasses surrounding the tulip tree were also calling to me so I picked a bunch and took them back to the bench. Finding some feathers on the ground as I went.

As I was cutting the grass, it reminded me of my farming ancestors, making hay or harvesting the corn. I thought too of my Great Great Grandmother, Caroline Canterbury, who was a sailcloth weaver in Dorset in the mid 1800s.

So when I got to the bench, I wove the grasses through the back struts

The process had begun…..

 

 

 

 

Land Art at West Dean College

I am at West Dean College this week doing a Land Art course with Dan Lobb

There are four students including me

Top left is Dan, then C who has been to West Dean many times, bottom right is T an Architect from the US. He has flown over especially for this course and bottom left A, an installation artist.

On Friday evening we gathered for a presentation by Dan, of his work and examples from other ephemeral artists working with natural elememts, like Andy Goldsworthy and Chris Drury.

This is the view from the window where the group meets

As you can see, we are currently experiencing a drought in the UK

West Dean was established by Edward James, a friend of Salvador Dali, and is a fascinating, enriching place to be.

Note the carpet: Edward James’s wife was a ballet dancer and as she ran from the bathroom with wet feet, Edward noticed her footprints and wanted them immortalised in carpet design

The gardens are glorious

and there are so many fascinating details to notice

It promises to be a spectacularly creative week on so many levels – I am in heaven!

From my nest on the cliff

7.06 am 25th December 2020, looking out from my static caravan window.

Click on any image to see it full screen.

As some of you will know, every other year I escape Christmas and find a hideaway where I can be on a blissful tinsel-free retreat.

This year, I could not go too far from home, but luckily a friend owns a caravan at Sandsfoot Castle, overlooking Portland Harbour, just 10 miles from where I live and she was kind enough to let me have it to myself.

I have not been away from my house overnight for about a year, so it felt very exciting to pack a suitcase and stuff the car full of craft supplies and head off to the sea.

8.00am  30 December

watching the sun come up each morning was the biggest thrill.

Each day a constantly evolving Rothko painting would gently, gradually, change with the light across the sea and sky

Lots of people seem to find it too odd to comprehend that I enjoy going away on my own to be in some far flung place in isolation – but I LOVE it. My very own silent retreat, away from village life and all the practical ‘to do’ lists of home and garden.

I often get asked “but what do you do?”

Most of what I do fits around Tide Timetables, the weather forecast and the time the sun rises and sets  – and that is a wonderfully calm and simple way to live for a couple or more weeks every other year.

In 2008 I went to California for six weeks,

In 2016 I stayed in a treehouse on the Pembrokeshire Coast from the 15th December to 15th January.

paddle boarders

This year, I was able to walk from my nest, along the Rodwell Trail, that follows the old railway line, from Weymouth to Portland. From there I could tramp up along the top of Chesil Beach

This photo was taken at 1pm on Christmas Day. Whilst so many were tucking into a turkey, I was walking for about a mile along the top of a nearly isolated beach in crisp clear air and glorious sunshine – it felt SO good!

I say nearly isolated as there was one family having a windy picnic lunch looking out to sea and in the carpark, looking out over the harbour, where it was a bit more sheltered, there was a couple in red and white Father Christmas hats sitting at a picnic table covered in decorations and having a lobster and champagne lunch. Fabulous! The camaraderie of doing things differently.

There are plenty of old rusty bits and pieces to enjoy along that stretch

I would love to know the story behind this abandoned boat

The Pheonix

But oh the shed!

Look at those doors – all that texture, the colours! the corrugated rust!

ART!

So, dear readers, I am sure you don’t need to ask me, “what do you do?!”

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Silent Sunday: Host

Antony Gormley at the RA

Silly Saturday

face in the pebbles

I met this guy on Branscombe Beach last weekend, any ideas what his name could be?

He looks like he might be emerging from his underground home to see who’s about.

Branscombe man

I think he might be related to this chap who lives in the Lost Gardens of Heligan

lost gardens of Heligan

I don’t know his name either.

Joining in with Cee’s Oddball Challenge

Beach

sand sculpture, beach art

 

Passion for sand play

Creates dragon with baby

on Pembrokeshire beach

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Photo Challenge Prompt: BEACH

Ronovan’s Haiku Prompts: PASSION and PLAY

 

Please leave links to your BEACH photos in the comments – thank you, looking forward to seeing them and remembering long summer days.

Pair

Girl power Cerne Giant, gouache resist and ink

Girl Power Cerne Giant

reactions differ 

altering ancient symbols

amused or irate?

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Our One-A-Week Photo Challenge prompt this week is PAIR

Ronovan’s Weekly Haiku challenge prompts are : AMUSED and IRATE

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The photo is of a painting I did in 1994. I had just returned from a round the world trip looking at all sorts of ethnic symbols in Nepal, Australia, Tahiti and America and realised there is a very powerful symbol in my home county. The Cerne Giant.

I have written about him before a couple of times, here is one post describing a walk in that area. Rainbow Junkie has also written about visiting Cerne Abbas.

When I was playing around with the Giant design, first I gave him a mate by putting my girl version next to him in a painting, but this one is my favourite – girl power!

My 7 year old grandson, Master R asked to me the other day, “Why are boys more important than girls?”

“They’re not are they?” I replied

“Well why do we have the World’s Strongest Man competition and the World’s Tallest Man competition but not the World’s Strongest Woman or the World’s Tallest Woman?”

“Good point,” I said, “I think a long time ago men thought they were more important just because they were in general taller and stronger than women, and some of that still stays on in our culture, but we know better now don’t we, all that thinking is a bit old fashioned.”

We then had quite a long discussion about all the things that girls were better at doing, boys were better at doing and things which boys and girls were equally good at.

They take me into interesting arenas of discussion these grandchildren of mine – looking at the world through their eyes is a very useful thing to do.

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Cathy and I have created a list of Photo Challenges, just for fun. You can see them all here.

Please leave a link to your ‘Pair’ in the Comments, we’d love to see them, and i will include your link in the monthly Round-Up.

 

Turn

Oak tree turned into a sun dial by the evening sun

Art in the garden, Grass spiral.

swirls like the ocean

running on the shore of your

imagination

 

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The spiral made in my lawn this year has been thoroughly enjoyed by many – children always run around spirals – turning, turning, turning, always turning, always running, always laughing – it is a delight!

Easy to do – you cut the lawn on a high setting and then starting in the middle, mow outwards on a lower setting, keeping a gap of the mower width to your right or left, whichever way you are moving. I’d love to know if you give it a go.

I first cut a spiral back in 1999 and then came the Waves, and the Grid

What pattern would you create?

Just had to include this wonderful piece of graphic design:

graphic design, from Trust Me I'm a Designer

I saw this on a site called ‘Trust Me I’m a Designer’. Clever don’t you think!

It’s your turn!

Leave a link to your photos in the comments so that we can all see what turns up this week. 😉

Joining in with Ronovan’s Weekly Haiku Challenge – his prompt words this week are: Ocean and Shore

and the One – a – Week Photo Challenge that Cathy and I have compiled for fun.

Ceiling

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Taken on a blustery New Year’s Day at Mwnt. The little church dsc_0079providing a welcome haven from the dramatic weather.

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As we waited for the completion of the magical Sand Circle by Marc Treanor

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Our first Photo Prompt for our One-a-Week Photo Challenge.

Please leave a link in the comments.

Pop across to see Cathy’s ‘Ceiling’ too.

Mystery

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mystery unfolds

as sand is raked in circles

we gather to walk

~

trial run on paper

the reward is perfect

a Chartres labyrinth

Our Photo Challenge prompt this week is MYSTERY

Ronovan’s Haiku Challenge Prompts are REWARD and TRIAL.

Once again I combine the two in a ‘PHAIKU’ Challenge (my own made-up word), Jen, Denis, Cathy, and when she can, Melissa (it was Melissa who started me doing this) also often/sometimes combine these two challenges in a fun challenge each week – it is not as tricky as it seems – come join us! Leave a link in the Comments below.

Or

Join in the Photo Challenge by leaving a link in the comments here or at Nanacathy‘s, for me to include you in the weekly round-up, which usually appears on Sunday.

Also

Joining in with Cee’s ‘Which Way’ Photo Challenge.

Mystery: Have you ever wondered how to draw a labyrinth? Have you ever wondered how Marc Treanor creates his magical sand designs? Have you ever wondered about the mystery of the power of labyrinths?

I learned to draw labyrinths many years ago but the sand designs remained a MYSTERY until 22.Sept this year when I was lucky enough to be able to join Marc on Mwnt Beach in Ceredigion, Wales for a supremely magical evening to celebrate the Autumn Equinox.

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Marc Posted this beautiful short video on You Tube and Facebook

I felt extremely blessed to have been able to be one of those long moving shadows making our way around the path to the centre and out again, whilst a flute and ukulele played and children sat around the fire in the middle.

You can see me carrying a magpie feather on the left, in this photo by Dimlo Sighs, which he has kindly given permission for me to include.

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Profound, mysterious, magical, unforgettable.

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Art Walk on Wednesday

A couple of weeks ago I went back to Cerne Abbas to do the circular walk again with art as my focus. (you can see more of the walk here, here and here)

The Giant itself is a piece of landscape artpic Giantsign

humans being drawn to make a mark on any surface they come across, even scrawling on barn doors.barn doorsWhilst walking I noticed shapes and outlines with doodles in mind
seedhead

hsrt fern

hsrt fern

leaf knapweed1

… imagine that stag-horn-like petal on the left in a mandala or doodleknapweed1

Joining Cee’s Flower of the Day: Knapweed

knap

wire

Wood lying around, like sculptures reminded me of Anthony Caro’s work.old wood

sir-anthony-caro-table-piece,-catalan-storyBits that show signs of human history intrigue me, as well as the interaction of other creatures – can you see the cobweb in the picture below?barbsfade

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Hints of Barbara Hepworth here

post

Figure-hepworth

Two Figures (Menhirs) 1964 Dame Barbara Hepworth 1903-1975 Purchased 1964 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T00703

Two Figures (Menhirs) 1964 Dame Barbara Hepworth 1903-1975 Purchased 1964 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T00703

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And Chris Drury here.post top

If you click on the photo above it will take you to my Photo Page where you can see it in more detail, especially the lichen.

medicine_wheel

The picture above is a work by Chris Drury called the Wheel of the Year

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Every so often I did look up and out at the glorious landscapeDSC_0692

But mostly my camera was set to Macro.

Have you enjoyed any walks this week?