7pm Monday night, I walk to the road I’m due to meet Geoff. It’s a close day, muggy, slightly overcast, perfect photographing and drawing weather, no bright sunlight to mess up what I can see or record.
As I walk down the road, getting ever nearer to the allotments, I suddenly feel very overwhelmed when I see all the gardens in bloom as I approach my meeting point. Everything will be bursting with life and energy at the allotment and somehow I have to record this frenetic part of the year, and that’s my starting point. I wistfully consider if it would have been easier to build up to this point, starting in January when most things, including I suspect, some allotmenteers, lay dormant.
But I turn a corner and I’m here, I can tell it’s Geoff is waiting on the other side of the gate, sneak view of the website and I’d spotted his photograph. This was meant to be a quick visit to collect a key and be briefed on various aspects I’d need to know. Understandably we discussed privacy and that some people would choose not to become part of the project. I understand that as much as anyone, being an introvert and loving my quiet time in my garden and on Hampstead Heath.
I am given my plot plan, directions where I can walk, and after making sure I can open and close the padlock, I meander off for my first pacing of the plot as artist-in-residence.
Quickly I realise that I need to spend as much time as possible at the allotments now, (typically I’m not able to go there for a couple of weeks,) but after that I will immerse myself as much as possible. It’s a 45 minute walk door to door, uphill for me on the way there, and a slow jaunt downhill home. If nothing else an hour and a half’s walk will only do me good. I’d like to experience all times of the day, from dawn to sunset.
Walking the plots paths I realise that it’s not the abundant colour that my senses wildly register, it’s the smells. The smell of earth, growing and the fruits. I’m stunned into realising that recording the visual aspect won’t be enough, I’ll need to, somehow, record how all my sense respond to the space. I certainly have my work cut out for me this summer.
Practically though, I need to start small and seasonal. Tempting as it is to go round and draw all the wonderful plot numbers in various styles and sizes, the details, like taps and buckets, summer is about what is growing. The details will be good to do on a dark drizzly dull November day. For now, when I start the residency well and truly, it’ll be about colour.