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Why Not My Garden?

by James on July 23rd, 2013

In all the years I have been making work in and from my local environment I have generally avoided my garden. Or maybe not consciously avoided, more ignored. My garden is a very important place for me, it gives me space to nurture and be nurtured, to grow plants for wildlife, for beauty, and for food, and yet in art and in wider culture I get the impression that gardens aren’t really taken seriously, they aren’t serious subjects, not quite ‘nature’ and certainly not ‘wild’. Maybe they are seen as too feminine to be serious, not heroic enough, they are tamed rather than wild in many people’s eyes.

But if you take a starting point, as I certainly do, that ‘nature’ is an artificial construction, a piece of the perceptual puzzle that leads us to experience ourselves as somehow separate from the rest of the ecosphere, then such boundaries fall away, and places such as gardens become some of the most interesting places for exploring our physical, cultural and perceptual relationship with the land.

Additionally, if you believe, as I do, that in order to become leaders in the sphere of using artful approaches to encourage more sustainable, ecologically connected lives, that you need to start with yourself, your own immediate experiences of connection, then our gardens become important spaces within which to experiment, research and make change happen.

So, I thought it was time I started exploring what was on my doorstep, with hopefully lots more to come on this subject in the future, including some of the interesting work that is being done in and with gardens.

Here is some of the writing that flowed onto my page as I was making:


‘Here. Here and now.

Here is as important and powerful and beneficial and as crucial to the health of the world as anywhere else.

Starting here, I find myself, and I give myself over. I plant and nurture and am nurtured in return.

Plants blossom, I try to blossom, or not even try. Let myself be. Be here now.

My garden is a piece of the world no less than a mountain top. My time spent here is no less important than a funded trip to Antarctica.

Work made here gives me insights into my daily life and into the ecology of people and plants, into cultural and perceptual barriers between ‘man’ and ‘nature’.

Here is like plastic – beautiful, continuous, as natural as any re-wilded highland bog – but seen as separate, cordoned off.

We need to see the truth of what happens in our own lives, homes, gardens and bodies before we rush off to ‘save the world’. This is the world. I am the world too.’




  1. thanks James..some thoughts and feelings I resonate with. Wise and poetic and visually I like what you do with the words and the images coming through. Its the hardest thing to stay with ourselves but as you say, as important as anything else…Im going to do some drawing in my garden now inspired by this!

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