In late 2017 I had a really good idea. I’d met Annie, who grows flowers in her wonderful garden, with chickens and cats and a tangle of magic everywhere you look.
I didn’t know about the magic at first, of course. All I knew was that I’d bought some flowers from Annie, and from that small transaction I’d fallen somewhat head over heels for her, her gardening dungarees, and her refreshing way of doing business. I suspected that we might get along quite well, and I knew that I’d love to find out more.
So I invented a project, and I emailed Annie to ask if, maybe, possibly, I might come along and draw in the garden once a month for a whole year. To make a record of the garden from Winter through to Winter, working only in one sketchbook. Making a garden journal, so to speak. It seemed like a big ask to me; an invasion, perhaps. How did I know if Annie would like the idea? I didn’t. I pressed send and then worried a bit, nervous. She might have hated it, thought: Urgh. Share my garden? No. Can’t think of anything worse.
But the answer came right back: yes.
(And of course, as soon as I got to know Annie, I realised i shouldn’t have worried!).
And so, in January 2018, we started. In the traditional way that friendships start, we began with coffee, in Annie’s amazing kitchen full of clocks. She must have seen my eyes darting through the window to the garden, and so into it we went, in boots, wrapped up against the cold, me clutching pencils and ink and sketchbook.
Annie worked; I drew, and wrote and listened and watched and felt and recorded. We talked. It was thus every month. Coffee, then work. A companionable silence sometimes fell, but not often!
And so the year has passed. From those frozen months in boots and big coats to the hot hot hot of Summer days.
Looking back now, over a whole year of notes and scribbles, it’s interesting to see how the temperature - and my own temperament - ebbed and flowed, as life and the weather does. When you draw something and look back at it later, you can always remember how you felt and what was going on in life, I find.
It’s not always easy to recall those bright, hot days of Summer now, especially after the dark Winter of recent months.
But, there they are in my sketchbook. And this is good.
My work now is to collate, organise and try to make some sense of all the notes and scribbles I’ve gathered over the year. How I will do this, and what it will turn into, is anyone’s guess. Maybe a book? Maybe an exhibition? Maybe something else.
It doesn’t feel too important what happens next. In the same instinctive way that Annie gardens, oftentimes letting things seed and grow where they will, as I work, one idea will settle and take root in the right place, I just know it.
This whole project was self seeded. It grew itself as we went along.
And I do believe, it was meant to be.
Here are some of the many sketchbook pages.