This is my final exercise for this project and I have been asked to consider a location as a theme. I also have to use some familiar techniques in different or unfamiliar ways to reflect my chosen location. The purpose of this exercise is to take risks with working techniques whilst exploring a familiar landscape or location as a source material.

I didn’t need to think too hard about what location to choose as my favourite place is my garden. For so long I lived in the city without an outside space so when we decided to move to the country I found inspiration in nature. I planted many trees in my garden and since then I have many creatures, great and small, playing, procreating and finding refuge in it. I have had nests of black birds and entertained bluetits and hedgehogs. Other residents in my garden are bumble bees, frogs and butterflies.  I am often found taking pictures of the many wildflowers that grow and provide nectar to the many insects attracted by the scent and colours. When I think of my garden, many words come to mind: magical, tranquil, life, awesome, peaceful.

I also have the pleasure of seeing red kites flying above my garden while I lie on my grass as my favorite location.

These are  pictures of some of the flowers and plants that grow in my garden, making it a continuous form of inspiration, encouraging me to constantly want to capture its activity.

While thinking  about my exercise I had no idea what I was going to do, so I simply spent some time in my garden reflecting, just being. I started making sketches of my favourite parts and of some of my flowers. I like painting with watercolours. Below is an illustration of one of my favourite spots in my garden as behind the boat bench,  there is a family of hedgehogs who come out every evening shuffling about. I also enjoy seeing the birds play with the beads and mirrors hanging from my apple tree. It’s a playground for them.

I felt very safe in what I was doing. I couldn’t really see how I was taking risks as I have done water colour  sketches of my garden so many times before; it felt familiar and predictable. I still stuck with it as It almost felt like I had to go through the familiar to discover an unfamiliar territory.

I then used my sketch to do some embroidery in a A5 sample on calico. I painted it and added beads and thread loosely to still maintain the marks of my work and make it look like a quick sketch. Not very manicured. I remembered how I worked in previous exercises like 1.6’s Music and 1.4’s poetry and even 1.2’s personal experience. Collecting feelings, information and words trying to use them as a source of inspiration thus making my work evolve from its original.

I was still not 100% happy with the outcome. It felt predictable, nothing I hadn’t done before. This sample is cute! But I wanted to move away from cute.

So I thought of my garden and took all my photos of information I had gathered and took a risk. I cut them all into small squares, irregular squares to show the essence of the photograph and leave the viewer with a taster,  not the whole story.

I then joint the squares with thread, sewing them together in my sewing machine. I put a picture of my son in the middle as we moved to the country side for a better life for him. The garden has always been his playground. I thought of how I felt when I first moved here – thinking that leaving the west end of London would be the end of  my creativity, but in fact it was the opposite. Leaving London gave me the head space to go back to being creative. I thought of de Whaal’s interview and how he talked about his move to Sheffield from Herefordshire – ‘There was a zone of safety that I needed to get out of’- I can completely relate to that comment.  I also felt the need to get out of my zone of comfort in this exercise. How could I get out of my zone of safety?

I looked again at how I worked with exercise 1.6’s Music and how I just let myself go and immersed myself in the music.

I looked at Ghada Amer’s works and the way she talked about feminism in her textiles. I started thinking about nature, how it procreates, how nature gets ‘dressed’ ‘clothed’ for spring in preparation for mating and in turn for procreation. I thought of me as a woman and mother. My garden of life! How as humans we also clothe ourselves for mating. So it made perfect sence to use my photos of foliage and flowers to make some lingerie, inspired by Zoe Buckman undressed and her Every curve Art exhibition.

My lingerie is a colourful display representing life in my garden and in nature as a whole. It also plays with the idea that knickers cover the most important part of procreation. Women’s vagina has been described with so many words: flower, peach, honey- well or bush being some of them, adding a bit of humour to my work.

I think that the technique: using my photography and turning it into textiles is a brave step and I feel a more successful one, than my textiles sketches as it shows me taking risks, thus coming out of my comfort zone. I have also learnt how to be more conceptual and have expressed it in this piece. I feel like I have turned a bend in this exercise and have stretched my thecnique by  further learning and opening another way of viewing art.

My garden of life