National Botanical Gardens

Good lord was I cold.  Will I ever be warm again?  I was not prepared for this weather – note to self please bring a warmer coat and more layers when you spend four days on a cliffside at the Gower.

I have been to the Botanical Gardens before when I was younger but haven’t been in over a decade so I was looking forward to going back and seeing how it had changed.  We had several tasks to complete over the day, including the 100 drawings that had been mentioned at the first briefing on Tuesday.  I did find it quite difficult to find my stride with this exercise as I can find it difficult to decide on a subject to sit down and draw.  I found it hard to really get on board with the whole ‘note taking’ aspect, of doing the quick drawings just to jot down things that catch your eye.  I had only done about 30 by the end of the day but I was pleased with what I had.  Rather than drawing things I saw, I chose to make individual rubbings of textures and other things that I found interesting and noteworthy.  During the course of the day I’d been thinking more and more about the direction I was thinking of and I thought more about texture and pattern and its appearance in nature.  Making the rubbings was a really great way of documenting this, far better than had I been trying to draw and replicate what I was seeing when I could simply take a quick rubbing of it.  Some of the textures I got were really pleasing and something I think I could definitely use.

I did take my camera with me and these are a few of the images I gathered from the day.  The old buildings we found was interesting as there was nothing else around, certainly no other dwellings or evidence that it was a community of any kind, however small it may have been.  We did sneak inside the one building as the home itself was locked and boarded, and once I got in I realised it was an old cow barn where cows would have been milked.  Again, here what I found interesting was the old marks on the walls and evidence of what used to be.  This was the first thing we discovered on our walk in the area surrounding the Botanical Gardens, and I hadn’t yet decided on making rubbings so unfortunately took none from here.  Most of the windows had cracks in them or were smashed and broken in places, and they made interesting viewpoints.  Yes, windows are intentional to let light in and to allow you to observe what’s going on outside, but with the cracks in their appearance it got me thinking more about how obscured our view of a landscape can see.  Personal preference, experiences, likes and dislikes, can all alter a person’s viewpoint on what they are seeing or alter it’s appearance.  Like two people looking at a painting, two people looking at the exact same view can see something entirely different to one another.

For me I find that photography is a much better way of documenting.  This teamed with the rubbings I acquired across the day give a real feel of the different textures, shapes, and difference that there is in front of you.  The fungi growing on the long dead tree stump have these soft silky edges up against the rotting wood, and together these things make up what is in front of you.  It’s how these all interact that makes up the landscape as a whole.  All the tiny dew drops on each piece of grass create that shimmer you see on a hillside or a field when the sun hits it.  I think there’s something infinitely more fascinating in noticing those tiny details and appreciating what you’re looking at is actually hundreds of thousands of smaller landscapes.

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