Walking Around 2: Wandering Into The Print Workshop.

Well, NO! It was more like racing in at high speed shouting ‘Let me etch!’ This was because, the day before, I had watched this……..

…and while watching it, I found myself scribbling furiously, drawing quite spontaneously, and making little illustrations of the things Chi was talking about. In no time, I had several sketchbook pages, drawing, making notes, thinking back to the CHWA, conference and remembering the projects about blood and breath that had been presented there……….. Yeah! A sort of idea was germinating which resulted in this.

And by Appraisal time just before Christmas…… these

relating to thoughts about these things….


  1. More cleaning and tidying around other areas of the studio.
  2. Improving the crates.
  3. Photographing Shinrin: various angles, different lights etc.

End Game.

Bank holiday weekend and half term ahead. Time to plan out the end game. That probably starts well with a bit of reflection. Interim assessment (Thursday, finally) afforded a bit of a backwards overview – looking through my ‘stuff’ with PT. Wow! What a lot of work I appear to have done since March.

I had a strange sense of self- edification …..’ how on earth have I done all this?’ I said to myself. It certainly hasn’t been the easiest of times around Chris’ health issues and the fact that, at this point (yesterday actually), he finally got the remainder of his outstanding salary for MARCH! Nothing yet for April and we now approach the end of May. Needless to say, the mortgage company and the council tax wolves are gathering at the picket! (Yes, we’ve put it up – very sharp and spikey – but no doubt they will break through to the ‘door’ very soon) – very worrying.

Perhaps there is little surprise in Hubz’ hospital trips.

Why haven’t I ended up in hospital?

Probably because of Shinrin in my mind and now, actually not just there but very nearly out in the world. It is a great sense of achievement and making me feel quite strong and purposeful, driving towards final assessment and hanging our show.

Alongside the practical element of my project, I have learned a great deal about the arts in/about/ health agenda which has been intellectually stimulating and has afforded me the opportunity, not just to contextualise my work; but also, to meet new people with whom it may be possible to collaborate in the future. I have learned a lot about ‘trees’ in art and about ‘gardens’ in art and have enjoyed contemplating how art around the impact of ‘place/nature’ upon human well-being may contribute to a contemporary sense of the sublime. In ‘A World Of Garden’s’ (2012), John Dixon Hunt describes the traditional notion of sublimity with regards to ‘sublime places’ like Yosemite or the Himalayas but also – and for me the interesting thing,

“beyond these special places, (there are) places where we also need to recognise sublimity’s relationship to something that might be called sacred even in this apparently secular world. What Yves Bonnefoy calls ‘hauts lieux’. These are not simply, if at all, what the French term a ‘high place’; but sites of significant moment, where one can better attain here rather than elsewhere a connection with one’s own self (‘rapport à soi qu’on recherche’)”

(Hunt, 2012. p.9-10)

My aim has been to capture a sense of this in a tree garden imagined around the idea of ‘Shinrin Yoku’. What, recently, watching my work take shape, several people have begun to call a ‘Zen garden’ ….. not my words at all, but in them an implication that I am actually achieving what I set out to do. This is gratifying. I feel I have been pushed quite relentlessly, to achieve a level of refinement in my work, the realisation of which, will now depend upon how I accomplish the installation of the elements. The printing of the hanging pieces is to finish over this weekend and the bench, early next week after which, I propose to dedicate half term to experimenting with various installation layouts in my allotted studio space so it is ‘finished’ before the end of half term. This will allow me time to play around with lighting and photographing the installation before a final few days of ‘paperwork’.

Mindfulness & Serendipity

Yesterday, I finished the first layer of plaster on each of the standing elements. I have made 2 x w.90cm x h.60cm they represent the notion of a gate into the Shinrin Yoku space. 2 x w.60cm x h.90cm and 1 x w.60cm x h.120cm (will it stand? is still a question!) these are supposed to reference prospects and thresholds.

I originally imagined just one of each standing piece and two or three hanging ones but decided to make ‘spares’ in order to have enough to be able to up-scale the installation in a large space or leave bits out in a more intimate arrangement. (Atrium? /studio?display options in mind) Also of course, having spares is just a good insurance policy in the event of any forthcoming accidents or disasters! (ever the pragmatist I say to myself).

Today, I have worked on application to the other side of each piece and I am delighted with the contrasting textures visible on the front and back as you look through from different sides.

It is proving to be a difficult day. I just phoned Chris in hospital and found him barely lucid enough to speak – so much morphine – I felt quite tearful. I’m working hard to keep my anxiety at bay because of that AND – still no interim assessment!

The very act of applying the plaster strips to the fabric pieces is quite a calming, meditative, mindfulness sort of experience though – which helps – serendipitous. Being meticulous as I am, about applying the minimum amount of plaster to support each piece and using the minimum amount of water required to set it on the fabric is a way of actually engaging in the minimalist aesthetic kinaesthetically through my process as well as effecting it conceptually and visually in the product. I am pleased by the feeling of ‘integrity’ this invests in the outcome.

It is so important to keep the pieces safe and secure while they are so fragile, and also, to keep them clean. So, where meticulous process is a mantra for today, it is twinned with methodical working practice. I am hanging the elements to dry between each plaster application on the overhead ducting in the studio to keep them clean and safe. There’s a sort of rhythm developing around doing a bit of plaster application; climbing up to hang the piece; washing down the bench; doing a bit of this while it dries…. bringing down the next piece; laying out the strips on it; STEPPING BACK FROM THAT – doing a bit of this …. looking back at the strips to tweek the design and back to applying the plaster. Round and round. Erin thinks it must be really tedious. It is however, quite soothing I find.

Phone Chris again.