Tag Archives: West Dean College

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.

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!

Mosaic Crochet: Tom’s Blanket

Finished at last!

This Mosaic Blanket for my nephew Tom has been a long time in the making, but I finished it just in time for it to be a house warming present for him as he moves into his new flat this week. The pattern is Santa Cruz by Daisy Knots

I have made it once before for another nephew.

You might remember  I started making this one when I went on a 2 week retreat in December 2020, and this is how it looked after 2 weeks of pretty solid crocheting

I am often asked how long crochet takes and this is very hard to answer. Each pattern has its own timescale and I often crochet whilst doing other things. I also have several projects on the go at all times.

In this case it was a satisfying pattern to make, but required concentration and I made so many mistakes that I spent a long time unpicking and re-doing.

One way to attempt to answer the question of how long does it take is that I timed one row and it took

Another question I am often asked, is ‘do I sell my blankets’.

NO!

I love making them as gifts, but just as it feels very uncomfortable to me to time what I make, as so much more than time goes into them – it would be impossible for me to put a price on the blankets and throws.

I had to leave this project for long periods of time during the making of it, to give myself a break.

When I asked Tom what colours he wanted he didn’t know so I offered a choice of Black, Grey, White, Red which would tie in with the colours of his favourite football team or these in  Stylecraft Special Aran: Mustard Gold, Silver, Black, Copper and Cream

He went for this colour combo

There is a lot of Back Loop/Front Loop crochet to make the pattern.

Each row uses a new piece of yarn so each row has two ends that have to be dealt with somehow. This pattern creates a pocket on the edging to house the ends.

I didn’t feel happy with just pulling the yarn through a stitch and leaving it like that, so I tied reef knots in twos along the edge after I had crocheted the edge.

I also made a wider border than the pattern and only crocheted the piece at the back to cover the ends, to go about half way up the border – maybe this was a mistake.

If anyone else has any ideas about how to deal with the masses of ends in mosaic crochet, I’d love to hear them.

The ends inside the pocket did create a bump. In the pattern they are cut to just about an inch long, but I didn’t feel happy about that, so I left mine much longer.

The photos of the finished article were taken at West Dean College

Oh My! what a beautiful place it is. I have recently been on a couple of residential painting courses there and knew that it would be just the right backdrop for the blanket.This was my bedroom! What glorious luxury for a few nights.

And Tom is thrilled with his blanketwell it is very soft and snuggly!

 

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Silent Sunday

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Silent Sunday: West Dean