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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“.

 


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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….

 


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I have started documenting the work being done to restore Russell Gardens. Today I caught up with the contractors putting in some new posts and paving stones. Next week there will be contractors laying tarmac which I will try and catch. Too often the hard graft behind creating a beautiful space (or piece of work) goes unrecorded.


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I have been commissioned by Dover District Council, to portray Russell Gardens in Dover Kent, the only example of Thomas H Mawson’s garden design in the South East that is open to the public: Kearsey Abbey and Russell Gardens form the Kearsney Parks, the subject of a Heritage Lottery Funded project to restore a unique heritage, community and event venue.

The project  is being delivered with Dover Arts Development (DAD) by the Kearsney Parks project, a DDC project with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund Parks for People programme. See more here.

It is a great opportunity for me to continue my research into:

  • Gardens/Parks as: curated spaces, spaces of work, recreation, refuge and as shared spaces
  • Art as: work, critique
  • Film as: curated space, shared space, process of gathering, assembly and bringing together, and into
  • The embodied experience of space from different individual perspectives.

I’ve started some research into Thomas Mawson and lines of enquiry include finding out more about the arts and crafts influence on garden design and his contribution in particular with a view to understanding its contemporary relevance. And of course I shall be considering the history of Russell Garden itself and the role of gardens generally as social & sensory spaces, as constructed ‘natural’ spaces existing between culture/nature, order/chaos, leisure/work.

I’ve visited the Park many times as a resident and regularly take my dog for a run in the adjoining Bushy Ruff, so I am really looking forward to getting stuck in.

I’ve spoken to the park keepers and given them a gopro to capture some immersive footage while they go about their day-to-day work and have been in touch with the architect who will be doing the restoration work.

Here are a few photos to whet your appetite!


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