Thursday, October 25, 2012

Prospect Cottage and my love of (shingly) detail

Crikey - a whole 10 days have come and gone since I signed off with Charleston Farmhouse. Tempus fugit and all that.
I actually (sad soul that I am) looked up that saying to check on the spelling. And ended by knowing that it loosely comes from Virgil's Georgics: Sed fugit interea fugit irreparabile tempus, singula dum capti circumvectamur amore = But meanwhile it flees: time flees irretrievably, while we wander around, prisoners of our love of detail.
And God knows my love of detail led me into an almost trance-like state sticking down these pebbles one by one, to say nothing of giving me a touch of the screaming ab-dabs from time to time. Virgil obviously knew a thing or two. Though possibly nothing involving glue sticks and cut up bits of National Geographic ...

So here is .... ta-ra .... Prospect Cottage in Dungeness, East Sussex, former home of Derek Jarman:

Derek Jarman (1942-1994) was an English film director, artist, author and Aids and gay rights campaigner and creator of an open, fenceless, tranquil garden in an area by the sea famed as being Britain's only desert.
"You can't take life for granted in Dungeness," said a friend of Jarman shortly after his death and talking about his now famous garden. "Every bloom that flowers through the shingle is a miracle, a triumph of nature ..."
Prospect Cottage itself is a traditional tarred black fisherman's cottage which Jarman purchased in the last decade of his life with money left to him by his father.
The building and highly original garden certainly chime with the description of Jarman (in his role as film maker) as a "radical traditionalist".
The same article also described how his reading of Jung affected his films and "gave him a theoretical framework for his attempt to find the past in the present and the present in the past", a sentence that sings for me.
Anyway, he certainly strikes me as a person who lived and loved life to the full, so I have included a kind of tree of life in the foreground.
The cottage famously has lines from a John Donne poem, The Sun Rising, carved on an outside side wall. Some of my pebbles are cut up words of John Donne.
Here's a detail:
Each stone cut and glued by hand.
Thank goodness for Radio 4!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Charleston Farmhouse again ...

Plein Air in the Garden of Charleston Farmhouse

The lighting was better today and so I thought I would put this up again.
Yesterday's effort, taken in the evening, was far too gloomy.
I have also christened it.
Once I have a goodish photo and a title I feel I can move on to the next thing, somehow.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Vanessa Bell and a blank canvas in the garden at Charleston

Finished at last!
That was my fiddliest to date. Collaged gravel is something else to try to cut out and stick down.
The Carrington swan insisted on staying and the dainty young chap with no clothes on (unless you count the convenient wisp of Omega Workshops-style gauze of course) appeared after I had recced some Charleston photos and noted rather a lot of Grecian posing.
Vanessa is obviously having trouble deciding what to paint. Or maybe where to look.

The black cat which appeared in my first sketch has jumped up onto a commanding position on the wall.
I do wish I had placed the sun about one centimetre higher up. It's bothering me, but glue is not the most flexible medium when it comes to rectifying misplacements. I will have to have a think about that one.
Of course Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant were artists and so I have wandered a bit from my remit here, but on the other hand think of all the Bloomsbury writers who visited Charleston. And Vanessa Bell's husband wrote books.
So that's alright then.
Anyway, time to tidy up the studio, do some admin and think about my next paper and scissors challenge ...

Friday, October 5, 2012

Charleston Farmhouse in Sussex

Here is a detail of what I am working on at the moment - Charleston Farmhouse, East Sussex, a beautiful rambling building set like a jewel in a lush blowsy garden which was the rural retreat of the Bloomsbury Group, the home of painters Vanessa Bell (sister of Virginia Woolf) and Duncan Grant from 1916.

"It's most lovely, very solid and simple," wrote Vanessa, "with perfectly flat  and tiled roofs. The pond is most beautiful, with a willow at one side and a stone or flint wall edging it all round the garden part, and a little lawn sloping down to it, with formal bushes..."
Vanessa died in 1961. Duncan Grant lived on, the building deteriorating around him. In 1980 the Charleston Trust was set up to save and restore the house and garden and open it to the public. It is now a place of pilgrimage for Bloomsbury aficionados.

There are plenty of pictures all over the place of the amazing painted interiors - just google "Charleston Farmhouse" and enjoy. However, there are some wonderful photos of Charleston in its less well-documented dilapidated early state on Flickr which makes you appreciate the amount of work that was needed to bring the place to life again.
This one's taking time to do. It seems ages since my first ideas sketch:

Then came this:
As you see, the black swan (an echo of Carrington's one in her wonderful portrait of Tidmarsh Mill) is still hanging on in there!