My Garden Studio

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I built my large wooden studio in our garden more than 30 years ago. I previously had a number of productive and happy years sharing a studio in Holborn with Graham Crowley, Vanessa Jackson and others. But when the men in suits with laser rulers came round we knew our days in the studio were numbered. The building owned by the church was to be converted to flats. So with the help of a few friends, including very fortuitously a master carpenter and an architect, I decided to build my own. Read more

Frames of reference

An August Garden

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Bees and butterflies love Verbena bonariensis, which is at its floriferous peak right now. I rescued two large pots of it from B&Q a few months ago – they were sitting atop a trolley and hadn’t been watered for probably a week. They were brown and crispy, but I could see that there was a little life left in them at the base. They were marked down to fifty pence, so I took a gamble and parted with a pound. I took them home, chopped all the foliage off to the base, and stood them in a bucket of water. Now they are huge plants, waving about in the breeze with purple puffs of flowers atop 5ft high stems. I’ve planted one in the border but haven’t decided what to do with the other one. Maybe it’ll stay in a pot, to be moved about the garden wherever there is a stage for dancing flowers. Read more

Frames of reference

Pieve Di Corsignano

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One evening we came down the hill from Pienza to see the original parish church, which dates from the time when the town was still known as Corsignano. Luckily we found the caretaker sweeping up rose petals after a wedding and he invited us to look inside. Read more

Frames of reference

In Pienza

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Pienza was the creation of Pope Pius II. He was born here in 1405 when it was known as Corsignano, and in 1458 he commissioned the architect Bernardo Rossellino to replace it with a Utopian new town, intended to be the rival of Siena. The buildings around the main piazza were built within three years, but the rest was never completed. The ideal city remained little more than a village. Read more

Frames of reference

Underneath The Arches

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I’m sifting through photos from Italy. We just got back from holiday and I’m surprised at how many arches there are. I didn’t consciously set out to photograph them but it turns out I’ve got more photos of arches than of anything else. Not only are they structurally efficient but they’re also intrinsically graceful and irresistibly photogenic. Here’s just a small selection from our first day in Perugia. Read more

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Azure Window

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In Gozo last Summer I took the opportunity to walk across the top of the Azure Window to capture the view down over the rock pools and beyond to Fungus Rock in the distance. Read more

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Ode To Joy

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Thanks to a tweet from The Fife Psychogeographical Collective I found this video by Bill Drummond at the Birmingham Mail website. It feels like a small miracle. A band of outlawed Romanian buskers performing the anthem of the European Union under Spaghetti Junction – a perfect metaphor for the knot we’ve tied ourselves in. I’m offline now for a few weeks while I check if Europe will still have me.

ICH BIN EIN EUROPEAN

Frames of reference

A July Garden

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I have three of Gunnera tinctoria. It’s the little brother of Gunnera manicata (those huge waterside plants you can stand underneath at posh gardens) – but it’s still plenty big enough for a small suburban garden with 3ft wide leaves. I used to have only one but repotting gave me the chance to sneak off a couple of sideshoots for propagation. Read more

Frames of reference

Some Nicholson Frames

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Oval Form no.2 by Barbara Hepworth, pencil and gouache on paper, in a frame constructed by Ben Nicholson, was recently sold at auction. We were asked to frame a photograph of the drawing. Making the frame was like making a Ben Nicholson construction; it was a great privilege. I used a simple pine moulding, the horizontal sides overlapping the vertical sides, and painted white. Read more

Frames of reference

Abbot Hall & Packwood

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This white metal fencing is so distinctive and evocative. It instantly conjours childhood memories of days out, picnicking on the banks of the River Hodder. It must have been erected by the Lancashire County Council in the 1950s all around Ribblesdale and Bowland. This view is somewhere near Kirkby Lonsdale, possibly skirting Farleton Fell, a wet landscape of sheep and wind turbines. We were hoping for sunshine; there was a distant patch illuminating Blackpool Tower. And then there was a curlew, on the wall beside the road, right next to us, but in the time it took to stop and get the camera it lifted off and soared away. The closest curlew we ever saw, and it saw us closely too. Read more

Frames of reference