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In 48:Eight – the gallery of The School Creative Centre, a symposium titled This Migration – the role of migration in the arts, our lives, societies and our future histories. The sculpted heads of first and second generation Londoners formed a silent last tier. Their individual stories could be heard through the headphones.

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A slide below that was used to explain the processing of personal information and how this can be translated into data – used by the border services as well as by those more creative. Francis Alys ‘ The Loop’, Yinka Shonibare ‘The British Library’, Xavier Ribas ‘The Fence’ + Anna Maria Maioino ‘Black Hole’ were used in a discussion on how certain artists deal with issues around migration.

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Not all the heads are inanimate and the colour of bone – some are the guests . . .

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. . . not in focus but that’s purposeful. Digital images of the Lost Land of Ubar. The tracking of a migration route – digital cartography. How beautiful is the earth. I found the whole experience of the session visual as well as informative and consequently thought provoking.

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Open Studios here on 19+20 September. The text comes from Geography 111 – an anthology of poems by Elizabeth Bishop.

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LESSON I.

Q. What is Geography?

A. A description of the Earth’s surface.

Q. What is the Earth?

A. The planet or body on which we live.

Q. What is the shape of the Earth?

A. Round, like a ball.

Q. Of what is the Earth composed?

A. Land and Water.

 

LESSON VII.

Q. What is a Map?

A. A picture of the whole, or a part, of the Earth’s Surface.

Q. What are the directions on a Map?

A. Toward the top, North; toward the bottom, South; to the right, East; to the left, West.

Q. In what direction from the centre of the picture is the Island?

A. North.

In what direction is the Volcano? The Cape?

The Bay? The Lake? The Strait? The Mountains?

The Isthmus?

What is in the East? In the West? In the South? In the North? In the Northwest? In the Southeast?

 

“First Lessons in Geography,”

Monteith’s Geographical Series,, A S Barnes + Co., 1884

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Occasionally, Great Dixter stays opens in the early evening when the garden is much less populated and so easier to absorb. The Front Garden is still in meadow mode with soft blue flowers of Geranium pratense ‘Mrs Kendall Clark’ dancing through the grassy herb layer. Occasionally Fergus gives an informal talk  – last Saturday he talked to the Friends of Great Dixter about successional planting, supported by his mind maps which are something to behold, and introduced this year’s group of students from Germany, US, Japan, UK and Turkey who gave short but delightful explanations about their horticultural life pre Dixter. We could wander around the garden before and after and soak it all in. June is the time of reflection and review of the past combined with the chance to develop and fine tune intuitive skills. This garden in June . . . mmm . . .

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We heard about staking methods and the bedding out of plants that are grown on from seed annual and biennials in seasonal batches often 6 months apart. Cornflowers, tall and precise, are a case in point in The Solar Garden.

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In The Wall Garden, great contrasts to the ‘soft meadow look’ appear with the container plants. An expansive composition of form, texture, habit + confident use of colour.  The domed head of Geranium madarense in flower (below) echoes the arch –  clever. Looking at this grouping, foliage is to the fore.

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Looking down on detailed combinations such as Ladybird poppies filtering through the honesty seeds and the fading tones of Smyrnium perfoliatum and then looking up and capturing a gutsy long view beyond the verbascum torch to the clipped gateway and the walnut in the Front Garden – these aren’t haphazard planting combinations but are all clearly thought through.

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The light is dropping away so contrasting colours take centre stage but touches of delicacy are half hidden and so offer surprise on investigation such as this delicate pea wrapping itself through the thick stemmed tree peony.

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Wandering through the garden rooms, the contrasts and, therefore the changes in character and mood, invite reflection – from my point of view anyway. Lessons to be learnt at every visit – a joy.

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This month the variegated portuguese laurel throws fragrant flowers over the narrow path leading to the Orchard and High Garden. A modest shrub but does the business when required. Again contrasts flood the view-point . . .

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Seeing what’s going on in the Vegetable Garden is a must on any visit here but this time my eye was taken with the elliptical spread of acid green Euphorbia in the prairie. Brush against the Leptospermum lanigerum in the High Garden  – powerfully scented white flowers disguising the silver foliage at this time of year – and then look  . . .

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. . . through vertical strands of Thalictrum and Miscanthus and Stipa gigantea arching nicely all around with full stops of the odd Ferula flower . . .

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. . . blood red flowers on a rose in the Long Border taken with a long lens from The Orchard stop the eye whereas a pretty spread of dwarf campanula gently washes the base of Lutyens curved steps.

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Then a quick foray into the Exotic Garden where the winter coats and shawls around the bananas have been cast aside. Mostly a green foliage room with the occasional rose in flower prior to the big visual explosion that will happen here from July onwards. What have I learnt? So much; marvellous.

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This must be the month when Mercury started it,

tongue in cheek, stirring his sky-pot,

scattering the winged languages.

 

First, the pictograph with its chiselled petals,

then its linear equivalent, syllabic –

the exact whistlestop shape of the swallow.

 

Philology: How sound falls in love with the script.

 

What I have to put my mind to

is June’s own rain-noise,

the talk that drowns out the traffic.

 

Fricatives and plosives, tree-language

learned in the schoolroom of the wind.

 

Translations from the rose-garden,

the half million sweet nothings you can’t make out.

 

Bird-gossip,

blown husks like ripped envelopes

rowan-flowers white as folded-open letters.

 

And that black man

under the branch stock still with his ear

to the air and its underwater wash of shadows.

Alison Fell  June Lightyear

 

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The Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve has over 267 hectares of ancient woodland, heathland and grassland together with 3 miles (5km) of cliffs and coastline.  Set within  the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, most of the park has been designated a Special Area of Conservation, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is a designated Local Nature Reserve. All this sets the scene for the peaceful and also should go someway to explain the problem that is occuring and identified at the end of this post. I thought to walk from Fairlight Place, down Barley  Lane where the verges are full now of a natural tapestry (the dog rose are especially glorious now – the oaks always) offering views through to the pasture only occasionally . . .

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. . . which make them special.

 

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Warm weather following months of rain mean wonderful growth on all plants. The interface of verge to stream to grasslands and meadows merge sublimely. Pieces of construction that are manmade are mainly of galvanised material . . .

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. . . but sculptural elements that emanate from nature are there too.

Some organised by man and some where nature is in control.

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Ivy exploring the oak, ash and sycamore make interesting organic compositions in Covehurst Woods and then the big view

opens across Lee Ness Ledge to Dungeness.

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Turning up the track into Long Shaw and the meandering incline to Dripping Well, clumps of  ferns  are looking spectacular. The ancestors of these were dug up, potted up and taken by train to Covent Garden market in Victorian and Edwardian times. The sound is of gushing and falling water. and the visual is lush foliage, dappled shade, patches of sun and, on this occasion, a  single fox with a light brown coat, just pausing unperturbed on the path to watch and gauge before disappearing elegantly into the

undergrowth.

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The westerly  end of the Country Park at Ecclesbourne Glen is less peaceful recently.  The owners of Rocklands (caravan park) have erected a ‘bunker’, removed trees (which may have caused a landslip and therefore the closure of paths) and increased the number of mobile homes directly interfacing the park landscape. This has been done illegally but the owners have applied for retrospective planning which they may well obtain. The ‘bunker’ has been constructed on the footprint of a single storey building and so obstructs the pleasing views that locals and visitors were able to enjoy. As the council are custodians of the Country Park, we feel aggrieved and have received little useful communication. A peaceful protest in the form of a Sunday picnic was organised and enjoyed by 200 folk who love the park and appreciate not only nature but also this particular and special coastal environment. No representatives, elected council or from the government joined us. The ‘bunker’ is shown below and then an image of festive picnic. And someone made a video of the proceedings and the story to date  (thank you Bob + Peter). Click and listen  – it’s worth it.  Ah, little stone – how simple life should be.

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How happy is the little Stone

That rambles in the Road alone,

And doesn’t care about Careers

And Exigencies never fears —

Whose Coat of elemental Brown

A passing Universe put on,

And independent as the Sun

Associates or glows alone,

Fulfilling absolute Decree

In casual simplicity — Emily Dickinson

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