Close to home.

I find that the same themes, with variations, appear over and over in my work. These include the rainforest, landscape, natural history collections, birds, the sea. However, one piece of subject matter to which I have frequently returned is extremely close to home. This is our small, suburban back garden. It has appeared in many pieces work, and has influenced countless others. I have been looking out at it and looking after it for nearly 37 years, so obviously it’s fairly profoundly etched into my conscious and subconscious mind.

So, when people ask where I get my ideas from, I often list those inspirations above. But I could make work based upon our garden forever. It’s small, crowded, interesting, not perfect, houses a pond with two ancient quite ugly fish, of whom I am very fond, has something going on throughout the seasons and entertains a good variety of birds. At the moment, there is an open space beyond the garden, which in winter affords a different dimension and sense of distance, as well as foxes and badgers. So I count myself as very lucky indeed, and what follows are some pieces of work inspired by this little plot.

Firstly, The Summer Gardens is an artist’s book I made a couple of years ago, which hasn’t been out and about very much. I may take it to a couple of shows this year. Below are some images of it’s making and pages, some of which, shown here, are based upon our garden.

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Below, a number of pieces either of the garden, or in the case of the last four images, work that was inspired by the garden and that have become woodland pieces. This is no surprise as the garden has a few [over] large trees and we are overlooked by even larger trees too.

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So, there we are, close to home and plenty to be going on with.

All the pieces of work are between A3 and A1 in size.

12 thoughts on “Close to home.

  1. This is great example of how an artist can be sustained by a key source. I love the page from the summer book. It suggests, along with your photos that your garden has great structure to it? I am guessing there’s topiary to go with those trees… or am I looking at something else? This work is a real lesson in constantly re-assessing ideas and letting new work speak to you. Just brilliant.

    1. Thanks Lesley, the garden is a great resource, and of course other subject matter can be added into garden compositions too, which is something I’m working on now.

      The garden is quite well structured, although some of the plants we added have gone quite wayward, and need a sort out, it’s still fine on the whole. The garage has disappeared under ivy, but the birds love it.

      The topiary is my little joke, as I do actually call it that; there are 3 box trees trimmed into [vague] spheres, a lonicera that always needs a trim, [a wonky cuboid] and a bay tree I bought years ago as a tiny thing which is now quite a nice shape, a sphere on a trunk, basically.

      The clipped plants keep the rest of the garden in visual order, as other things just go wild, and I often don’t notice until a large area has been overtaken. Most of the gardening I do is cutting back for half the year on a regular basis. No lawn, thankfully, just too boring to look after! Without really noticing I seem to have planted it so that something happens throughout the year. I just buy plants I like, but not, these days, those that need full sun.

      1. I often wish we had no grass but our garden was a field in a former life and looking after big plant beds takes longer than strimming the grass! I often think plants for shade are overlooked. There are some beauties to be had, usually with striking architectural shape to them and I’m glad I was right about the topiary.
        Thanks for the mermaid’s purse comment. I have no idea how to reply other than this. I think I need to get the hang of that Instagram!! I would live with the staining too but it is to accompany some small photograms for my A level and I’m not sure the tutor is as forgiving as you and I. Somehow I think only pristine will do.

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