Sunday, 15 November 2009

Imaginary Greenhouses

I recently got back from a week running poetry workshops on the Yorkshire Dales by the beautiful Grimwith reservoir. Possibly more to come from that... but my favourite discovery of the week was the remains of the gardens of Oakworth House. The house belonged to Sir Isaac Holden and no longer stands (see drawing for how it once was) - it even had its own Turkish bath house - but the gardens still stand in some way. But what really amazed me was the tale of how these gardens once stood under a giant glass dome. I love old greenhouses - there's something extraordinary about old glass - how it seems so thin and battered yet strong - how each mark seems to hold a piece of the history of what was seen through it... In this case the dome seems to have been purely for show - in a way to contain this mythical world he wanted to create - to protect his extravagant dreams from the prying eyes of reality. Today you can still wander around a maze of forgotten interconnected grottos and high stone walkways going back to nature and thankfully left unscathed by beastly health and safety. Local kids apparently climb in at night and live their secret disapproved of lives hanging around the slippery mossy rocks. I like the idea that it comes alive then - that this place is somehow still secret - that you need to know an unspoken code to unlock its stories. I would love to do a project there and hopefully I will one day... I will try and get hold of some photos of this modern forgotten dreamscape... But till then, here's to English eccentrics and dreaming of your own world...

Hamlet Gonashvili