Gardens Project 10: “One apple behind another, some distance apart.”

Gardens Project 10:

One apple behind another, some distance apart

mixed media drawing of the garden at Tickhill Road

Large Garden Landscape (work in progress) mixed media drawing of the garden at Tickhill Road

I saw a bird in the garden this morning, it wasn’t moving. When I went out to see if there was something wrong I saw that it was one apple behind another. Some distance apart. “

I’ve spent a good deal of time mistaking things for something else. In essence I made a career of it. I often see birds that aren’t birds, rabbits that are frozen into instants waiting to be caught by a passing glance. I once saw angels stirring their wings on the facade of the Sagrada Familia and shifted my feet to see them turn to plastic bags.

This morning the silhouette of a deer in the distance resolved into a woman walking a small dog, and a large stone used to stop joyriders. Is it true that the closer you get to things the more difficult it is to name them?”

Distances in the garden arranged like a victorian toy theatre, the flats guarding the succeeding views as you wind towards the fence. Out of the side of your eyes birds flit between branches punctuating your progress with commas.”

small mixed media drawing of the garden at Tickhill Road

Small Garden Landscape – Version One small mixed media drawing of the garden at Tickhioll Road

Reification or Gestalt Figure-Ground? Is the illusion created by the action of recognising an implied form or by the failure to distinguish a form from it’s surroundings?”

This morning (another morning) a bird flitting through the trees next to me landed on a branch and became a curled dead leaf waiting to fall.”

This morning (another morning) a pigeon turned into the leaves of a bramble by my feet.”

small mixed media drawing of the garden at Tickhioll Road

Small Garden Landscape – Version Two small mixed media drawing of the garden at Tickhioll Road

These notes were made over the last month as I try to articulate the things that are driving the Gardens Project. I’ll post a more in depth look at that that I’m working on at the moment.

As well as spending more than 200 hours working on the terrain for the first chapter of the Project (It’s not complicated I’m just not very good at remembering how to use 3ds Max so I’m relearning) I’ve been painting again.

5 small paintings of mushrooms picked off the lawn, and some poppy heads

Dried Poppies from the garden

Dried Poppies from the garden

And I’ve just started a still life of the bathroom window sill.

bathroom window sill

bathroom window sill – work in progress

I’ve also got two more months of drawing every day

The finished gallery from September can be seen here

and October through this link

The drawings are posted to Twitter and Instagram each day.

I also completed the drawings that illustrate the beginning of this post, and made some small paintings of holly leaves that I’m not sure about yet.

One apple behind another

Large Holly Leaf

One apple behind another

Holly leaves

and made a maquette of oak leaves as part of the gardens project introductory scene.

oak leaf maquette

oak leaf maquette

Interlude – Brief Catch Up for February

Brief Catch Up for February

leBrun Bather version four Brief Catch Up for February

leBrun Bather version four

Just a very quick post so I’ve got something to show – I’m working on a new post for the Gardens Project, which was just rejected again for funding through ACE.

I’ve revamped the website  – and I’ve been working on another project, two pictures below, that I’ll say something about later.

Lemniscate - Front

Lemniscate – Front

This was built in plaster and has been cast but this is the restored original.

lemniscate - Back

Lemniscate – Back

These are for a commission.

I finished the Draw Every Day for January

Began February

And, while I was revamping the website, discovered some older work and made a gallery of it


A Tentative Stroll Down the Garden

Et in Arcadia Ego

Balby Garden Sculptures June/July 2020

The Garden is not strictly a theistic or spiritual phenomenon. It has its roots in more basic impulses: to carve off a portion of the landscape, and distinguish it from ordinary places. This is suggested by the origins of the word ‘sacred’: from the Indo-European ‘sak’, meaning to separate, demarcate, divide. The opposite of the sacred is not the secular but the ordinary, from which it is set apart. In this light, the garden is one of the original sacred sites, preceded by groves like the Lyceum: an area cordoned off from purely natural or human activity, but which explicitly unites both. While perfectly secular, its walls, fences, ditches or hedges symbolise a break from ‘common sense’. “

Young , D (2019). Philosophy in the Garden. London: Scribe Publications

Balby Garden 5 in situ

Balby Garden 5, June/July 2020

I have two works in progress at the moment that explore the occupation of spaces separate to the world. One of them is a series of small sculptures that take elements from untended patches of garden and ‘elevate’ them through the application of gilding and oil colour. The other is a virtual reality work that traverses a series of yards and gardens highlighting, without explanation, elements of (auto)biography constructed through family photographs.

VR Glover Street

VR Glover Street, looking back past the introduction

As is often the way with the gestation of new works these works have both existed, in a kind of cinematic soft focus, well in advance of their articulation. The use of the garden as both a means of separation and as a motive for building or making has been at the centre of my work for as long as I’ve made it, but it was only reading the quote at the top of the post on July 12th 2020 that I clearly understood it.

Before this event, reading something that resonates is always an event, I had been struggling with ways to describe works that look to this “break from ‘common sense’”. A desire to show, not tell, by pointing at things and not expalining. I began with the Four Quartets, where in Burnt Norton

Footfalls echo in the memory

Down the passage which we did not take

Towards the door we never opened”

and through Baudrillard

Fiction is not imagination. It is what anticipates imagination by giving it the form of reality. This is quite opposite to our own natural tendency which is to anticipate reality by imaging it, or to flee from it by idealizing it. That is why we shall never inhabit true fiction; we are condemned to the imaginary and nostalgia for the future.”

Baudrillard, J (1988,1989) trans. Turner, C America. London: Verso

in the end encountering Poussin’s ‘Et in Arcadia ego’ and through this the Arcadia of Jacopo Sannazaro and the awful dream that induces his return to the city (Naples) through a dark tunnel.i

Balby Garden 3 (detail)

Balby Garden 3 (detail)

Maybe because of the way I was educated the development of the piece and the underpinning philosophy of the piece are both happening during the process of making. As an example I had struggled with the two tall pieces in the small sculptures series until one morning (this morning – 14/07/2020) when I saw the grass on my run, there is a tall grass that branches leaves like a crabgrass. I drew it a lot for the Balby Carr paintings I did in 2012, but I hadn’t thought of it until today. This realisation helped me resolve the need for the space around the ‘stems’ to be more active. It could also be considered a bit of cheat as plants are inherently interesting sculpturally and it turns the object into a sort of plant.

Balby Garden 2 (detail)

Balby Garden 2 (detail)

That also highlights the contrast in qualities I want to be present in the sculpture. The objects should appear to be plant like and an ideal might be that they are only occasionally noticed when in situ. So that they appear suddenly, demanding interrogation, emerging from their surroundings. At the same time I’d like them to be difficult to see, which is where these versions fall down. Looking back to my opening quote the objects should lift the environment from the ordinary by emphasising its sanctity. There will be another set. The first set are documented in the garden on this site Gardens Sculpture

VR Greenway View

VR Greenway View (still)

The VR piece has been hanging at the back of my mind for a year now, pushed back by the geranium project, and will step through a set of stories from gardens. Using a series of photographs (untitled) and some way of telling tiny stories as you progress through the space (currently experimenting with written notes in the space). This short film shows the beginnings of what is very much a work in progress.

The VR project will be updated irregularly and, when finished, be summed up here ‘et in arcadia ego’


iAll of this comes from a need to understand the desire to stand separately as an artist and look at the world from an imagined outside which is becoming more crucial to me in the age of ‘participation’ ‘community’ and ‘wellbeing’ in the arts. I don’t object to that but I don’t think we should all do the same thing, I don’t think ‘art’ should be defined, and no one is telling me what to do, or what not to do.