The forest becomes a mirror for an interior world and through drawing, insights on life are uncovered and expressed.
I use sensory walking and drawing to encounter nature,  create maps to get lost and found, combine text with image, consistently draw to find a space in which to experience the forest in different ways.
Both digital and traditional drawing mediums are used to draw with and document the project.
The project is supported by Natural England and Oxmarket Gallery, Chichester.
Research days: April to June 2015
Participatory events: June/July 2015
Public engagement day: September 2015
Exhibition: November 2-8th 2015, Oxmarket Gallery, Chichester, West Sussex



Work developed from the exhibition will be available to see in the John Rank Studio, Oxmarket Gallery, Chichester, 3-8 November 10.30-4.30 daily.

PREVIEW is 6-8pm Monday 2nd November, all welcome

Really pleased that one of the works has been selected for the exhibition WE ALL DRAW, Bargehouse, OxoTower, London.

Off to the Thinking Through Drawing Symposium soon too meeting artists, psychologists from around the world especially on drawing and cognition.


I spent Monday 17th August 2015 on a guided tour of Kingley Vale with Richard Williamson and the South Downs LiDar Project Group looking at the hidden histories revealed by LiDar maps and memories of Richard.
Fascinating layers of information from shaped surfaces of the ground, objects from histories of war and home, of changes to the forest, flora and fauna affected by changes to management of the land, of Sir Arthur Tansley, of politics and power, and of this one man who has been recording so much detail, providing access to schools, and supporting the amazingly diverse and rich range of species found in this small area.

The first place we stopped was beside the entrance gate where Canadian soldiers had buried 200 smoke bombs.

The next was a dew pond where last year I had developed a light painting of a yew that had fed and grown beside this same pond.

Richard showed a spot beside the pond where a large number of pot boilers had been found, stones that can be used to heat water. On the lidar map more of these are shown and shown to be interlinking down through the valley following the path of a long ago ice age.

More of the stories can be found in Richard’s books, The Great Yew Forest.

How can these maps of surfaces found by lidar, verifying histories, relate to the drawings from movement in the forest, and drawings in the studio?

The drawings and movement are about personal stories, what lies beneath the surface of the individual that is accessed as they explore the space and environment through drawing. During these exercises the objects of others become found. I have pieces of bronze age flint hammers, Victorian china (KV was a popular destination for picnics), ginger beer and tizer bottles, tail fins from Canadian bombs. And on Monday I walked along the edges of Bronze Age villages, in the crater of a blown up tank, on the edge of a Guerilla Hideout. I walked here as an eight year old child, through my youth and adulthood. It’s this connection across time and experience that is fascinating, and the drawings I’m developing about surface and experience.

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Drawing process in which i let the marks come from simple movement of expression using a soft graphite stick. The sense is of me getting out of the way, of dark and light, of spaces appearing into which light fills that resonates with my own feeling of joy and sadness, and as I draw thinking how I can create that same sensation in the viewer.

That when the viewer looks into these abstract marks and spaces, they will wander as if in a landscape, that the drawings create a sense of wandering and the contrasting light and dark has a visual impact on the eye.

Drawings as if panoramas of the mind, where eyes no longer know
where to rest
nor what lies beneath
or below
a simple surface of graphite and paper

Back in the forest noticing the dark and light spaces similar to the drawings. The drawings now affecting how I view the forest.



Summary of insights from a talk and seminar at Tate Brtain 30th May 2015 led by artist Emma Smith, relevant to the Kingley Vale residency.
Emma Smith introduced her project ‘School for Tourists’:
“The School For Tourists is an ongoing project to examine our relationship to place, to question the roles of host and guest and to consider new possibilities for belonging.”
Her workshop began with an exercise to demonstrate that speed of walking is affected by speed of thinking. This was pertinent to the two approaches I compared at the start of the residency of walking through the forest slowly off the main paths to pacing through the site on a visitor path. The thinking was faster with the faster pace, there was also a sense of being closed and frustration at missing out on stopping at interesting places, of not seeing as much.
“walking creates space for imagination” – Emma Smith
“Walking slowly increases level of consciousness” – Iain Sinclair
I’ve been recording ‘whispering walks’ through two repeated routes at and near Kingley Vale for five years. Audio trails with the purpose to process life events and experiences, sometimes to develop creative work.
Walking through the landscape on this residency has given me a sense of ownership of the place, in naming specific trees, in spending time and returning to and through locations, in recreating the familiar, in discovering places previously unknown to me, in not following the main paths. Emma described the visceral relationship to location and feelings of ownership created by a connection to the land. She talked about how her project had encouraged people to cross the boundaries set by planners to keep tourists and residents apart . Her residency at Grizedale found tension between local residents and visitors, and how artists had changed the way the landscape was perceived through romanticising it in paintings, poems and stories, that the views had been constructed to create these romantic vistas. Pre 1840 the region was considered ugly. Later in the seminar Prof John Urry defined the difference being:
land is the place where tilling and working takes place, landscape is the transformation of land to be gazed at for visual consumption and pleasure.
He also defined difference in gaze:
‘Collective gaze’ – seeing with others
‘Romantic gaze’ – solitary or with someone close to us, a dislike of ‘other’ viewers/tourists
‘Spectatorial gaze’ – person collecting views (photos, memories, passing by, adding to their collection)
Referred to mediated and constructed views for tourists, Kingley Vale is SSSI status so there is a limit to how much the site can be changed, but views are constructed through the paths, the Nature Trail, fencing. The tumuli burial mounds (Devils Humps) on the top of the hill were constructed hundreds of years ago with the spectacular views. There are many different types of visitors for education, religion, performances, hiking, leisure and dog walking, research, wildlife spotting.
“Viewpoint is what we see and what we think” – Emma Smith
In the forest there are cameras to watch the wildlife, so animals and visitors can also become the viewpoint.

The act of walking – looking up means the walker feels safe, feeling safe is influence by thoughts. I reflect on my early days and fear of adders, now I walking confidently everywhere in wellies and have less fear I look up more.

Sensory perception – sight and sound. Emma explained how both use the same area of the brain, that there is a limited capacity which means that if we are looking intensely we hear less, and vice versa. Silence allows us to see better, important for the drawing trails.

Emma had questioned with a choreographer how much movement makes a walk, and embodied thought, ie imagining to be on a walk. Would this give the same sense of wellbeing?

Some artifacts can only be viewed through walking, just like the landscape, and the wardrobes I’m hoping to instal inviting visitors to explore further. Natural England encourage people to do this, I rarely see others though.

Emma pointed out that we walk in a different way when we walk away towards something than we do when walking towards home.
“Walking is the most democratic form of movement”
“Walking with another person we accommodate each others physical personal capacity”

So the sensory workshops focus on engaging with land using different senses, one at a time, drawing from those different viewpoints ie what is seen with what is experienced through each sense.
Consider the different viewpoints that have brought more intense or inspired responses, whether these are ‘romantic’.

The last activity of the workshop we devised a way of walking through the exhibitions, I chose smell noticing the smells of the different areas, perfumed cleaner on the stairs, woody floors of the main room. With this focus when I came across a large Turner painting of the sea I could smell it. All the inhaling added to a sense of exhilaration (I presume from the extra oxygen). Breath is another way of affecting experience. Something to follow up.



‘On drawing and painting trees’ (Adrian Keith Hill,1936, Pitman Books):

‘It will be found that the underlying muscular development which categorizes the trunk and limb formation of the human contour is often reproduced in tree life.’ p.69

‘on Huxley’s definition of a tree as “an animal confined in a wooden box”, a phrase which should be a continual reminder to us to observe trees as individual forms of life, and therefore worthy of the greatest respect.’ p.70

He went on to found ‘art therapy’ introducing art activities to patients with mental illness, bringing prints to hospitals for discussion on art but was against incorporating psychoanalysis. To make art and discuss it is about the person engaging with the world outside, to make art for psychoanalysis is about letting others in for scrutiny. As an artist each piece of work I present for public gaze or engagement opens me and the subject for scrutiny.

I’m interested in the transformational and experiential aspects of art practice.

Return to strategies:
Drawing the space in between
Drawing something found from observation, another from imagination, writing to connect the two to experience
Sensation drawing larger scale

Found holes in the earth beneath the trees, something dug up, something once hidden and buried had been unearthed. I guess at squirrels and nuts. Consider cultural rituals of burying objects for cleansing in the forest. The drawing strategies feel ritualistic, I write and then follow them in silence.

Notice a rule of three in drawing approaches:

three perspectives (from Japanese ink painting) – bird eye, human eye, frog eye in films i’ve made
three perspectives in process – drawing an object from observation; drawing another from imagination; text response to connect both relating to experience
three planes or platforms – light revealing movement of canopy on artist sketchbook, the drawing on the page, the soundscape of the forest; the found object, the imaginative response to it, the response through medium on paper or film.
Each work has more than three when reviewed, but three are considered when making each piece.