So, I’ve been doing more research drawings and have been having fun using free paper samples and found tools – namely twigs. I’m not sure how I will use the observational drawings but they are an indispensable way for me to understand the Gardens visually and phenomenologically. How do I experience the Gardens, not just visually but as a space to walk in, sit in, think in, talk to people in?
I have deliberately been working small and am getting my plein-air kit down to a very manageable weight that I can easily carry and walk with! A small drawing seems to take me almost as much time as a larger one.
I had a go at painting again too, using new Japanese watercolours, but I think I need to practice a bit more ….
I’ ve been busy interviewing a resident of one the seven houses now comprising Kearsney Court, which was completed around 1900 as a residence for Edward Percy Barlow, the owner of Wiggins Teape, a paper manufacture. (Barlow is mentioned in Watermark, a Dover Arts Development production.) The house was split into seven residential freeholds in 1950 and new houses built off the main drive. (see https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1001696)
After what had been a fascinating conversation I realised I had forgotten my camera cards so returned the next day for a wander around the garden, up and down the steps leading from terrace to terrace and looking down towards the canal pond from where I have until now only been able to look up towards the house. I had fun trying out a new ultra-wide angle lens too. Russell Gardens and what are now the Kearsney Court gardens were once all part of the same estate.
I’ve also interviewed the residents of the house attached to the former walled kitchen garden of Kearsney Court. I had the most delicious warm scone before being given a guided tour of the garden – now maintained as a wild garden, with a few paths through the long grass and past the trees, and along former flower beds and the remains of heated melon pits and glasshouses.
So I am beginning now to collect the different voices I need for the film.
I just hope that I am going to be able to continue working, even if at a slower pace, while I undergo treatment for suspected bowel cancer.
Herewith a few research notes:
- Palladian architecture (on which the Palladian style of the bridges in Russell Gardens is based): from Andrea Palladio (1508-1580) a Ventian architect. Emphasis is on symmetry and proportion. Came to England through Inigo Jones (1573 -1652). The style was revived through the Earl of Burlington (1694-1753) who worked with architect and garden designer William Kent (1686-1748).
- Art and architecture have been intimately connected in Britain since 16th century
- Pergolas have nothing to do with pagodas! Pergola comes from the Latin pergula meaning projecting eave. Other Thomas Mawson examples of pergolas and pergola bridges are the Hampstead Pergola and the one at Eden Bridge Gardens.
- Dan Graham: I am reacquainting myself with Dan Graham’s work and his interest in landscape architecture as a public manifestations of interactions between art, architecture, environment and audience.
The weather was glorious and really hot in the sun but cool in the shade and breezy wherever I stood.
I needed a day or at least an afternoon of making work for various reasons (health and stress related) so did some filming, chatted to a member of the Dover model boat club, took some photos and got down to doing two small drawings.
I am beginning to get a feel of how the final video might feel…water will definitely play a part. The River Dour, from which Dover gets its name, is a spring-fed chalk stream and flows through these gardens and Kearsney Abbey Gardens across the road. From here it flows through the town and out into the Channel at Wellington Dock.
The charcoal drawing is the view from one of the Palladian-style pergola bridges at either end of a “magnificent 170m long canal pond“.
So, I now have quite a few clips to go through including a series of go-pro clips taken by Allan and John, the park keepers, who seem to be enjoying the challenge. When I took the go pro away for a day so I could see how they were getting on, it was clear that Allan, in particular, did not want me to keep the camera for too long.
Next week I want to start doing some drawings too …. and I’m trying to get a trip to the Hague organised for the end of July.
Decisions I need to start thinking about include deciding whether it is going to be a “narrative” film in which case length matters, or whether it is going to be a film that can be played potentially all day without it mattering when the viewer encounters it. The geometry is going to be quite chaotic again, I think, so I will probably keep the timeline simple and follow the months/season in the right order. I was going to wait to edit until the Autumn but I think I am going to start now….