parsley, rhubarb, early March 2020
This will be a record of the vegetables, herbs, fruit and flowers that come off the allotment this season.
And I will think about some of the words and phrases associated with growing food and more.
produce, production, product,
harvest, bounty, gather, reap, ripe,
Here are my tool drawings photographed with the original tool on show at the Zuzushi Gallery, as part of Photo Hastings this month. A show of work done during lockdown.
I continue to draw my tools. They still fascinate. My hands and other hands that have held them. The work that has been done with them. Tools in museums tell us about human lives, and about earlier ways of life. Of how people create instruments to help them gather, grow or prepare food, and to adapt materials to make shelter. The basis of living. All over the world. Throughout human life past and present.
These are the very last tomatoes of the season and even these are ripening with the aid of a banana on the kitchen table. I try to draw them, an uneasy subject.
The tomato is a fruit, part of the solanum or nightshade family. Its name comes from the Aztec word tomatl. Originally yellow, Pomodoro, golden apples, or love apples. Could these have been Eve’s apple.
Revolutionary red, shade of the night, poison, associated with witches, love and lust, forbidden – a dangerous fruit?
Put one on your mantelpiece to keep your home safe.
A bowl of thirty three quinces, all from my tree planted on the allotment 2 years ago. Beautiful perfumed fruit.
Was Eve’s apple actually a quince? The Ancient Greeks called it the fruit of fertility. In the poem, The Owl and the Pussycat got married and ‘dined on mince and slices of quince’. Apparently quinces are baked into Greek wedding cakes along with honey and sesame seeds.
Van Gogh painted a lovely ‘Still life with quinces’.
Try a crumble of apples and quinces. Quince jelly with a salty manchego cheese – mmmmm.
I’m interested in mushrooms, fungi – I saw the mushroom exhibition at Somerset House before lockdown, fascinating. They are neither plant nor animal. Their communication networks are huge. The question was posed – could we join in with their wood wide web, connect with nature, cooperate with nature? We are nature after all. Entangled, the new book by Merlin Sheldrake, sheds light into this underground world, a new place of exploration. There are so many fungal species, only around 6 per cent have been described. Too wet for the allotment where toadstools are sprouting up, I take 2 edible mushrooms from the fridge to the studio and draw them. I draw my palette, a pair of scissors. The mushrooms again. They seem impenetrable. The cups separated from their roots. I’ll cut and fry them tonight, I’ll chew and swallow them. They’ll be inside me. Sheldrake says that the vast majority of fungi live most of their lives as mycelial networks. It’s how they feed. Unlike animals, which put food in their bodies, fungi put their bodies in their food.
Not a silver nutmeg but a golden pear. The best from my tree this season, a beauty. Beauty in natural things. Looking closely, carefully – with care, in all its senses. You see more, you see detail, you see flaws. This way of looking creates care and value. I feel differently about this pear after examining it. I feel some kind of attachment to it. How strange. How natural. Slow looking links me to this fruit. Can I eat it? Yes I will eat it, but taking my time, to taste it, to enjoy it, not wasting any of it. I will save the seed. The stalk and tough parts will go into the compost to become part of the earth again. The dignity of life.