Wednesday 26 June 2013

Wiltshire: Guided walk through Pewsey Downs IPA

I went for a guided walk on Pewsey Downs this morning, with Plantlife, a first for me as I'm usually very happy to tramp about on my own, especially if I'm taking photos or sketching. 

Pewsey Downs is an SSSI and an Important Plant Area, due to its rare and endangered wild plants, its plant biodiversity . . .

and for its flower rich meadows.
A profusion of beautiful and delicate lesser butterfly-orchids.
An abundance of common-spotted orchids are strewn across the downs, and I spent rather a lot of energy in trying not to tread on any of them. The flowers themselves can vary from deep to light pink, and the leaves are marked transversely with dark spots.
The common fragrant orchid.
Burnt-tip orchid is a white orchid with a deep crimson peak - the 'burnt tip' in question. Once more common than it is now, it can be found in the short downland turf at Pewsey Downs (if you look very carefully), and has been chosen as the County Flower of Wiltshire.

Although medium-sized, I think it's easy to overlook twayblade due to it's gentle green colouring. Without a macro lens it's difficult to get a really good close-up, so I made an attempt at photographing it through a hand lens held over my phone camera. 
And great excitement for me, my first sighting of a bee-orchid
Even with the thrill of seeing so many fantastic and astonishing orchids I got a real buzz from seeing just so many different wild flowers, many that we think of as terribly common and almost unworthy of comment. 

Nevertheless, I still think plantains are amazing little plants, and look really quite extraordinary and are just as wonderful to see.

Thursday 13 June 2013

Long live Libraries and Weeds

I've just dropped off a set of bookmarks for Bookmarks Xl Infiltrating the Library System 2013.

I came across the quote 'If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need' (attributed to Cicero, Roman philosopher, 106 BC) and felt a link to sentiments from a deep and distant past. I was also struck by the thought that in over two thousand years, humanity has remained rather consistent. 

I not sure what I feel about this thought.

But back to the Bookmarks in the Library. Libraries holds facts and fictions, ideas and thoughts. Over the centuries libraries and books have been ransacked and burned in an attempt to censor or silence aspects of a nations culture . . . they are with us still . . . Not unlike weeds.
Mankind has attempted to eradicate plants like the dandelion for generations . . . and they are also still here. This is a good thing, they're an important early source of nectar for bees and provide us with culinary and medicinal benefits. 
So, lets keep our Libraries and our Weeds!
The bookmarks series has run over the last nine years, distributing free artwork in 93 venues in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey the UK and USA.

Each participant makes an edition of 100 numbered and signed bookmarks for free distribution in artist’s book collections, centres or galleries. 

Part XI of the project runs from Sept 2013 – February 2014. Parts I-VIII are already archived on the CFPR website at

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Proposal for an exhibition by 10 Artist Printmakers

Waysides & Hedgerows . . .
. . . Common & Garden
Call for Entries

'Our wildflowers are disappearing at a rate of 2 species every 5 years. Nearly half of the 1150 ‘priority species’ in the UK’s Biodiversity Action Plan are plants, but they attract a fraction of the budget. . . . ' Plantlife

I would like to put on an exhibition in 2014 focusing on the wild plants of our hedgerows, waste places and gardens, and I'm keen to find 10 artist printmakers who would be interested in a project specifically focused on plant-based images and text, related to the plight of our wild plants.

I must stress that this is not a search for botanical artists, but for artist printmakers who are keen to explore plant focused concepts, and who will make new works (Prints and/or Book Art) in response to this project. This is for artists with an interest in botany, although flora isn’t necessarily the main focus of their work.

A catalogue is envisaged but will be subject to budgetary conditions.

I am currently asking for initial contacts from artists wishing to be considered for this project, and I would appreciate if you could circulate this information to others you think may be interested.

Submission details
Please request further information through the comments box on this site or contact me via my website.

Application deadline Autumn 2013
Exhibition date to be confirmed

Wednesday 5 June 2013

Sheffield International Artists' Book Prize

Trying (well . . . setting out to but finding myself a little distracted by all the brilliant ideas sketched or written on scraps of paper) I came across the entry form for the 4th Sheffield International Artist’s Book Prize at Bank Street Arts.

Bank Street Arts is home to a large collection of Artists’ Books made up of donated books from submissions to the Artist’s Book Prize - Entrants to the Prize are requested to donate their entry to the Collection but, this is not a Condition of Entry.

In addition, books from the collection are displayed in exhibitions at the Centre and toured to book fairs and events around the country and there is an online catalogue.

Open to makers of artists’ books in any format, from anywhere in the world and without an entry fee. Although it's worth a mention that if you'd like your work returned you'll need to cover the cost of postage and an admin fee.

Deadline for entries: 31st July 2013

Tuesday 4 June 2013

Garden gorgeousness

The memory of a cold and grey May has already faded - it only takes one or two days of sunny weather to banish all grey from my mind. Just three weeks ago the wisteria was sulking in a chilly wind . . .
now, on a balmy June afternoon all is gorgeousness.
After forgetting to plant all the tulip bulbs bought online last autumn in a mad flurry of garden wishful thinking, and finding them lurking at the back of the shed in February . . . I made a new discovery.

I decided in March (with nothing to loose) to plant them out in pots, reasoning that at least the bulbs would 'do' better in soil, but not expecting much in the way of flowers. What a great surprise to find that almost all of them flowered very well, and I wish I'd taken more photos and done more sketching. 

They have such wonderful shapes - perfect for printmaking projects.
My style in the garden is a little relaxed and I love the tumble of greens in the hedge. Especially where we've allowed the hawthorn to grow up and out of the main body of the hedge, with some of the branches sweeping down, speckling the greens with creamy blossoms.
Elsewhere aquilegias are appearing where I haven't placed them,
creating interesting colour combinations. I like the deep maroon in amongst the golden marjoram, but not something I would have deliberately put together. 
Forget-me-nots colonising an unfinished border, which will now remain unfinished until they have done flowering.
Daisies and cherry blossom in the grass . . .
and a tree peony making an appearance. Despite looking so delicate aquilegias are ruffians at heart, and they're popping up all over,
even in the gravel by the back door.
We've put a bench in the meadow (the best place for us to catch the evening sun) a place to unwind with a glass of something good . . .
Paths cut through the grass and wild plants, although a work in progress it's really quite idyllic.