Meadow Weave: Wakehurst Residency, 2014 (4)

Trail of seeds.

014 (2) resizedThis is my working space for my post as artist in residence at Wakehurst, or what I like to call my studio: a couple of straw bales and a farm yard. Sheepskin for a touch of luxury.

It’s a naturally peaceful spot save for the occasional arrival of a farm tractor hitching up a piece of machinery and trundling off again down the lane.

The hay rope-making is gathering pace; it’s fragrant and relatively soft to handle. Once the hands and mind are confident and adept with this kind of making, the repetitive nature of it creates a certain mind space: wandering and reflective.

I’m thinking about the poignant creations of Angus Mcphee. He was born in 1916 and lived as a crofter in Uist in the Outer Hebrides. He spent almost 50 years in a Highland psychiatric hospital, during which time he chose not to speak – instead he wove a series of out-sized items like waders and jackets out of leaves and grass. He hung them from trees in the hospital grounds.

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive.
And then go and do that. Because the world needs people who have come alive.
Harold Thurman

grass baskets, foraged grass, hay ropeI’m also thinking about the myriad uses we humans have for rope, string, lashings etc. My friend Philip says that post-apocalypse, it’s string that we’ll be in need of more than anything. Because without it we can’t make what we’d need to survive: tools, habitation, clothes, traps etc.

I’ve been experimenting with making cordage from various foraged materials in the last couple of years. I recently heard of someone who’s made it from 90 different plants. So far I’ve tried a modest dozen or so plants, plus deer sinew and tanned fish skin. So I consider the 90 as a sort of gauntlet.

003 resizedFor now, though, I’m faithful to the hay… leaving a trail of grass seeds wherever I go.

And Philip’s got my address, just in case.

 

 

 

 

 

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