A hopeful alternative

It was in The White Bird that John Berger wrote “art does not imitate nature, it imitates a creation, sometimes to propose an alternative world, sometimes simply to amplify, to confirm, to make social the brief hope offered by nature”. With this in mind, it was interesting to see different approaches emerging from the architecture workshop at AUB, one of which was to separate the art from the landscape, placing them back to back. The model shown here proposes that you would enter from one bank of the river to experience the artwork (soundscape) inside the small room; from the other bank you could sit looking at nature whilst suspended above the water. I am not sure that this separation is appropriate, as the landscape at Mottisfont, and in particular the river itself, is just as much an art-ificial construction as the artwork I propose making. For ‘nature’ I need, perhaps, to look further afield, to the melting icecaps, the Barrier Reef bleachings or how migrating birds are arriving back at new times each year. In this endeavour I will take Berger as my guide, and search for a hopeful alternative. [Thanks the ‘reeds’ team at AUB who produced this model.]

The magic of models

Just spent the day at Arts University Bournemouth in architecture reviewing the concept designs for Surface Tension. Both exciting and challenging to see the different interpretations of the brief I gave at the beginning of the week. There were some beautiful drawings, plenty of Sketchup images, but what really got me were the models. Their immediacy, tactility and improvised nature all just add to their power as tools with which to imagine. Space and materiality in miniature. I will blog about them in detail next week. Wonderful. Thanks Simon for making the whole thing possible.

Huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’

It was for The Field magazine that F.M. Halford wrote about dry fly fishing under the pen name of the Detached Badger. The Field covered (and still does) anything to do with hunting, shooting and fishing – perhaps that is Halford himself fishing the Test there on the right of the magazine’s historic banner illustration. [If you know who drew this illustration then please get in touch as I would like to credit them.]

A wormhole on the Test

Mottisfont troutI visited the famous Oakley Beat yesterday, on the River Test. I guess this sentence need a little explanation: the Test is a chalk stream in Hampshire and one of the foremost fly-fishing rivers in the country (for trout); a beat is a short section of the river that you can hire (at considerable expense) to go fishing; and the Oakley Beat is famous for being where FM Halford, the father of modern dry fly fishing, fished in the years leading up to WW1. You can still find the thatched fishing hut that he built (now restored by the National Trust as part of their Mottisfont estate) at Oakley. He also dabbled in photography, and in particular with the Lumière brother’s colour process of Autochrome, which used tinted potato-starch grains to make images. This was before the days of Kodak and Agfa. Some of his autochrome prints are inside the hut. The Oakley Beat is fascinating, existing more in the imagination than on the ground. It is a pocket of warped reality, bringing to mind the passage in Interstellar where he goes through the wormhole to find time and space doubled back upon themselves. Another image that comes to mind is that of the Japanese tea garden, in its combination of manipulated space and intricate ritual. I certainly didn’t expect to find all this on the Test. Thanks Neil for showing us around, really captivating: and sorry FM for such a poor reproduction of your autochromed trout!