VR Development Gardens Project – Four:

Progress has been slow on the VR Development Gardens Project as I freeze in my garrett and read around the subject. I was struck by a review of Donald Judd by David Salle in the NYRB.

Judd’s chief value as a critic was to point out the obvious: that art is a thing, something that is made. It is not inevitable and doesn’t exist in all times and places equally. There is an objective difference between art and non-art, and a given society will either view art as worth the trouble or not. For Judd, art had certain factual properties, and comprehending a work required first of all observing what is or is not the case, and also a knowledge of art’s history, of how we got to this moment. Furthermore, Judd reminds us that this history is often quite apart from whatever story happens to serve the cultural moment. People obviously feel very differently today: the question is, On whose authority is this history being scored?

Salle, D., 2021. Object Lessons. [online] The New York Review of Books. Available at: <https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2020/12/17/donald-judd-object-lessons/> [Accessed 8 January 2021].

Judd’s chief value as a critic was to point out the obvious: that art is a thing, something that is made. It is not inevitable and doesn’t exist in all times and places equally. There is an objective difference between art and non-art, and a given society will either view art as worth the trouble or not.

Everything comes with a qualification.

I’ve continued reding the Sissinghurst book, particularly struck with Vita Sackville-West’s insistence that the garden be allowed to grow for itself essentially and the aim for minimal intervention. You have to leave to one side the intervention that was done but I like the idea that plants were allowed to spread and the design for the moment rather than for all year round colour.

leaves macquette

leaves macquette

So since the last post I’ve continued to work on the Glover Street Model, firstly testing things out in Miro world and building models for the playground behind the house. I’ve built a slide so far, I need a roundabout and a seesaw. I’ve also continued to look at the paintings and built some sculptures.



The lebrun paintings are progressing and hopefully improving.



Although these pictures are slightly out of focus.

But it is difficult to get motivated enough to really press on, I’m wearing my woolly hat and gloves in the attic even with two heaters on from 7:45.

The sculptures have provided a breakthrough for the Glover Street Playground that will translate into low poly models.

VR Development Gardens Project

leaves maquette detail

VR Development Gardens Project

leaves maquette detail

As usual I’ve continued to draw every day.

Gardens Project Two:

I’ve spent the past two weeks reading and thinking about the garden as a concept, while painting, making Christmas cards, running, not sleeping etc., Fundamentally ‘the garden’ elevated to an exemplar confounds any understanding of the garden in particular. I think I’m edging towards a view that the garden you experience is largely, or at least to some degree, the garden you carry with you. That garden is a concept that grows into the physical suroundings you occupy at a particular time. This means that your personal response, layered with who your are in all your aspects, is plastered over a space continually. Spaces you see less often are able to dominate your experiences, asserting themselves and their histories and epiphanies, except for those moments of deja vu where ‘you’ poke through the reverie. Spaces that you live in, and these can be spaces that you visit regularly, become ‘you’ and exemplify your particular reverie. So , while you can describe a garden physically and illustrate it in great detail, you can never explain it to anyone because, even in itself, their occupation of it is precisely theirs.

This highlights the necessity of non-linear narrative in the gardens of the project, a timelessness in the way routes are mapped through the spaces, and the infiltration of external influences (albeit at a distance) into the spaces as they are experienced.

The first space, Glover Street 1966, will have the back yard and back alley with the daddylonglegs and the railings. Through the railings you will enter the park, as I remember it, a sea of gravel with a small area of play equipment at one edge. A slide, a roundabout and a seesaw. The major feature of the space will be an inflatable toy, one of those where you weight the bottom with sand so that it won’t fall over. I distinctly remember being in the park with my brothers and being approached by a little girl who didn’t speak English, carrying this toy that was as big as her, she presented it to us and left. Triggering the toy will, somehow, trigger the story.

Glover Street 1960 ‘backs’

The current layout, to Sunday 13th December, looks like this. The trees have too many polygons, these are rowan, hornbeam and holly bushes from cadnav under their free use license but I’ll need to change them to a workaround as there are already 4.5 million faces in the model. The idea is to limit the ‘world’ to as little as there needs to be to tell the story and allow for progression.

Glover Street Layout 13 12 20

I made some Christmas cards this week so that Glenda could pick one to send to a friend,

Christmas Card Collection

She picked one of the landscape Christmas trees,

Winter wooods cards

And I’m continuing my experiment in learning to paint.

I’ve made these paintings of cellophane wrapped candles.

cellophane wrapped candles

cellophane wrapped candles two

I’ve also been working on some portraits, attempted copies of a lebrun painting in oils on board working directly, no drawing, just painting directly, that are less successful but still in progress.

bather (one) in progress

bather (two) in progress

I’ve also continued the daily drawings, December’s gallery.

Gardens Project One

In preparation for the effort that will go into the VRD Gardens piece – I’m increasingly against the ‘et in arcadia ego’ working title (too pretentious even for me) – I’ve been working on a small world I use as a test bed for learning about Unity and 3ds Max modelling. I found that the frustration involved in working with the technology is best spent on things that aren’t as significant, if it fails and I lose it all I feel less upset.

miro world map

This video takes a brief walk through ‘miro_world’ in it’s current state.

I’ve continued to research for the VRD gardens project, which has now been acknowledged as eligible for funding by ACE (this only means they will now consider it and, it being a resubmission, I would have been surprised if they hadn’t), and I came across the online exhibition at the Garden Museum – gardenmuseum.org.uk

“I walk in this garden holding the hands of dead friends…” i

This is the start of a poem in one of Derek Jarman’s garden notebooks. This page, and a few others are reproduced on the Garden Museum website as part of the first exhibition dedicated to his garden at prospect college. There is a nice reading by Julian Sands heading this page.

When you carry your past with you as any conscious creature must it helps to have a place to lay it down. This is what Jarman did with prospect cottage, creating a space defined by the horizon geographically and physcologically, allowing patches of memory and the ideas they spawn to seed and grow as they could in the shingle.

There is nothing for me as dramatic as Jarman’s motivation but the desire to contain an essence of oneself in a space is palpably universal. The garden serves of course as itself and has a personality that dominates with its presence when you are present. It causes you to contemplate whether you wish to or not and visit and revisit aspects of yourself. Whether working or relaxing the space is redolent with shadows cast by your thoughts and memories.

i Garden Museum. (2020). Derek Jarman’s Sketchbooks. [online] Available at: https://gardenmuseum.org.uk/jarmansgarden/derek-jarmans-sketchbooks/ [Accessed 28 Nov. 2020].