Saturday, 24 December 2011

My Tree, My Community at Eden 2011.

I was really thrilled to be working with Darite school on the edge of Bodmin Moor for The Eden Project's wonderful My Tree, My Community project this year. Here's a snapshot from start to finish. And yes I own magic dust so I can put children to sleep to dream about Christmas past. It's a useful teaching aid... Thanks to the lovely teachers, helpers, kids and Dan at Eden.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Tree house of the day 2

This was built by a man named Horace Burgess as an anniversary present for his wife. It took him 15 years. A very good way to a woman's heart in my opinion. And it is a particular favourite of mine due to Tbilisi style balconies! Sigh...

Treehouse of the day

Designed by blue forest

Castles of rock and sand - today I want to live here...

And then after lunch I would swim over to the beach and build this:

I keep getting loads of views of this so I hate to be a spoil sport but I do believe the first photo is not a real place... Though I think imaginary places can be just as amazing so it never bothered me...

Ukrainian Floating Barn

I've always been a fan of barns in general, but really I wish more people would think about how buildings are improved if they have the floating in an invisible tree vibe...

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Spider web tree clouds

Some of the most amazing photos I've seen for a while (courtesy of Russell Watkins - more can be seen on the National Geographic website). In Sindh, Pakistan in 2010 after terrible monsoon rains the spiders ascended to the trees to avoid the floodwater - quite beautiful (though depending on the spider type I imagine quite scary to be standing under...). I guess this is my dreamy post-Halloween contribution...

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Shoe box world (in memory of lost games)

Site-specific diorama and oral history inspired story, London, secret pathway.

Miniature book in situ, Notting Hill

This is one for the library of the lost not found... I sometimes wonder where the ones I don't get back go - whether they have a new home or have drifted away to biodegrade back to the earth with their secrets...

Imaginary farm of London past

Handmade secret history book (to be completed by viewer) and animal sound modules, Ladbroke Grove, 2007. There was actually a farm here once so I like the idea that the ghosts of geese and cows and sheep and pigs are talking back through my recordings - the sound pads like spiritualist portals...

Bridge mobile for ghosts

Embroidery, Ladbroke Grove, 2007.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Grimwith Reservoir Workshop Carvings

I just got sent some photos of the stones that were carved with words created in the workshops I ran for children and adults at Grimwith Reservoir for the 60th anniversary of the Yorkshire Dales being founded as a national park. It's so lovely to see them in situ!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Mary's Birthday (1951)

Lotte Reiniger does flower fairies and flies plotting in the pub and multicoloured germ massacres. My Mum's called Mary and would have been 3 when this came out - she also had an Aunt Peggy, so I like to pretend this was made for her...

Friday, 19 August 2011

straight from the den: archive: photostory

straight from the den: archive: photostory

Astrid just posted this from our trip to Iceland (where we were writing a travel journal for university about land art AND vikings) what is alarmingly something like 11 years ago now!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Owls and bluebells

Two of my favourite things from the best wildlife documentary of last year "The Wild Places of Essex". If you can find it in full do watch it - strange poetry of the everyday... And I love Robert Macfarlane (read his book The Wild Places - I was recently given it as a present and fell in love instantly - it has the atmosphere of a Samuel Palmer painting and reads like Ted Hughes).

Friday, 24 June 2011

Norwegian Stave Churches

My new architectural love...

I believe in the dark churches,
the ones that still stand like tarred pyres in the woods
and like deep red roses carry a fragrance
from times that perhaps had more love.
Those jet-black towers I believe in: the ones that smell of
the sun's heat
and old incense burnt in by the centuries.
Laudate pueri Dominum, laudate nomen Domini.

Axes shaped them and silver bells rang in them.
Someone carved dreams in and gave them wings so they'd wander
out across ages and mountains - which surge up around them
like breakers.
Now they are ships, with crow's nests turned toward East India...

(extract from Stave Churches by Rolf Jacobsen, translation Roger Greenwald.)

Monday, 20 June 2011

Supernova Poetry is online!

The website for the Supernova Poetry project I was lucky to be involved with in Belgrade is now online. You can read poems from the anthology and there's a live recording of me reading with the wonderful Manja Ristic and co playing music. Go to - to reach my stuff click on English UK (the anthology included poets from an amazing array of languages all translated in Serbian too), then click on my name - you can turn the pages like a book, so flick on one page from my profile to reach the audio stuff (or you can reach it straight from the homepage). I would recommend reading and listening to the whole website though!

Friday, 10 June 2011

St Nicholas of Bari Rebuking the Storm

I found a post card of this in the depths of my somewhat overcrowded room and remembered how excited I was when I first saw this painting when I was little and noticed the mermaid had legs. This was painted by Bacci di Lorenzo in the days when mermaids were very much involved in the causing of storms. It's in the Ashmolean in Oxford which is a truly fabulous museum (if memory serves me they also have a beautiful Samuel Palmer landscape). I also like how it sheds some light on St Nicholas's posthumous activities before he became Father Christmas. And how he arrives in a wake of stars (I think you can buy rather lovely Christmas cards of this moment)...

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Rail pod regeneration

I always get frustrated with city regeneration projects in the UK - when will town planners realise that shopping centres are not the only way to revitalise a town, and actually don't really regenerate them at all? And don't even start me on the Olympics and how that money could be better spent for East London... However on a more cheerful note here is a fantastic idea that recently won third prize in a competition to regenerate the Norwegian (gotta love that country) town of Andalsnes. It was proposed by the Swedish architects Jagnafalt Milton (who these images are courtesy of). Andalsnes is a city with a lot of disused rail infrastructure and the proposal utilised these rails to make portable modules that could be moved around as was convenient.

I love the idea of having a miniature pod house that you can move to a better location depending on season etc. They remind me of the sort of places you would imagine living in as a child when playing survival games of where you would build if all the adults disappeared. I would hide in my greenhouse at the bottom of the garden in storms and imagine that this was my home from now on. There's something about this design that reminds me of that childhood magic of the aftermath of a gentle apocalypse. They also remind me of the tradition of making houses out of railway carriages - something that was definitely common in the past down here in Cornwall. When doing research for a community project recently I was thrilled to find out about this way of life where the carriage homes were seen as the step between homelessness and a 'normal' house. They were really beautiful and I desperately want one as a study... I would like a Norwegian railway pod house too, though sadly the design did not win so they will not for now be built. At least they'll be in the great company of all the utopian housing schemes that nearly were, and thanks to modern technology, these days we have photos so in some kind of dimension they do exist...

Monday, 30 May 2011

North of the World

I've become weirdly obsessed with Norway. Bergen, fjords, wooden stave churches (more on them later) and for today the poetry of Rolf Jacobsen, here translated by Roger Greenwald.


Up on the city’s roofs there are large fields.
That’s where silence crept up to
when there was no room for it on the streets.
Now the forest comes in its turn.
It needs to be where silence lives.
Tree upon tree in strange groves.
They don’t do very well, because the floor is too hard.
So they make a sparse forest, one branch toward the east,
and one toward the west. Until it looks like crosses. A forest
of crosses. And the wind asks
—Who’s resting here
in these deep graves?

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Chechen border toys

Shatili, Georgia, August 2009

Shadows run for mountains
Disintegrating light confetti

Gonio Sunset

The sun melted into the sea
40 seconds of honeyed sky
and water without tides
waiting for the moon and
slivers of silver shadows
holding onto evening

The owls of Belgrade (and imaginary Stoke on Trent)....

I love owls - they're magical and strange and obviously know what's going on, so I was obviously thrilled when one child, Ebonie, created an owl land as her imaginary version of Stoke-on-Trent for our Mapping Dreams project (at Abbey Hulton Primary School). The photos are of some particularly knowing owls from Belgrade zoo - a somewhat depressing place, but the owls were wonderfully haughty and I liked to imagine that they escaped at night to have their own Depeche Mode discos and sesame pizza on boats on the Danube...

Maybe they also have the power to turn into teapots and spy on the gossip of a civilised sunny afternoon... (genuine Serbian hands courtesy of Jelena).

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Ruined themepark of the day - Dinosaur World, Arkansas

Now as my good friends know I do like a good selection of random life-size dinosaurs dotted around a landscape (i.e. Crystal Palace Park obsession, see one of my earliest posts))- in fact I like dinosaurs in general. I also like ruined themeparks, so imagine my delight when I discovered that in Arkansas there's a place that encompasses both - Dinosaur World! Closed in 2005 after a somewhat bizarrely right wing political history often involving its giant statue of King Kong it has been left to grow over, but is hard to get into to explore I think. I am not fussed about King Kong - but dinosaurs on the other hand...

These photos are from agility nut, which is worth exploring in general for its whole website dedicated to roadside dinosaurs - a deeply worthwhile exploration!

This from secretfunspot which has some good photos of general decay.

Fun, fun, fun... I like the idea that the dinosaurs come to life at night and so the be careful not to be eaten sign still applies...