Monday, 23 September 2013

green-fingered making

I've spent a fair bit of time this last week writing a synopsis for a book on sculpture in order to meet a publisher’s deadline.  This done, I am going through some notes taken recently during landscape gardener Dan Pearson’s Sunday sermon for The School of Life at Conway Hall and drawing parallels between gardening and making. Using plant materials for weaving as I do I am already tuned in to the connection between gardening and making, but I’m now asking myself the following questions: is gardening a form of making, or is making is a form of gardening?

Dan's subject was commitment, a word which has many negative associations - obligation, liability, restriction of freedom... He proceeded to demystify this by talking us through his own associations with the word with relation gardening. Below is a transcription of the notes I took during his speech where I’ve taken the liberty to replace the word 'gardening' with 'making' (I hope Dan won't mind) in order to address the question above.

craft - practical knowledge is acquired through doing

knowledge – making shows us a slower ongoing continuity which contrasts with our increasingly fractured accumulation of knowledge

process – making completely absorbs us in an activity / process is pleasure

investment – making is rewarding in itself / making give us a sense of things being ever changing

dreaming – we make in order to dream

contemplation – making makes us appreciate slower rhythms

control – editing and deciding what is important is unavoidable when making

planning making requires you to keep an eye on the future

timing – making requires us to be in the moment as things might only happen once and for a very short period of time

sowing – making provides us with a sense of evolution

faith and hope – seeing a bright side of a wet summer (which allows things to grow and mature)

the micro and the macro – making brings together the past, the present and the future (in a borrowed landscape)

grieving making is not about beginnings or endings but about process, change and transformation / making gives you a chance to recreate yourself

acceptance – nature will claim what you have made

connection –  making connects memories and the future in unusual ways

Reading the list above I realise these provide a much needed antidote to the fetishisation of objects that is all too common in the visual arts - taking time, allowing things to grow and change, creating connections with materials, history and the environment are fundamental. Now wouldn't these topics make great chapter headings for my how-to book on making and sculpture? 

pictures above are of Dan Pearson's Long Border, 
designed for his exhibition Green Fuse at the Garden Museum,
and taken on September 1st, 2013.

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