Anna was chosen by Furzey Gardens as part of the Arts Council England-funded Meeting Point programme.
Here Anna updates us on how her work is progressing as she starts to produce a new work of art inspired by Furzey, which will inhabit Furzey Cottage and beyond from May.
A month has passed already since I began working as an artist here at Furzey Gardens and I still can’t quite believe that I have been chosen to do this commission to celebrate the centenary year!
So who am I and what I am going to do?
I am an artist who uses all kinds of techniques and media, such as film, pinhole cameras, writing, drawing…. and I love working with people, who may not necessarily be artists, who want to co-create to make art with me.
I am going to fill the cottage by the entrance with projections, images and sounds! And whilst we are making the work we will create a wall of ‘work in progress’ in the gallery at the café.
At the very beginning I wrote:
My aim, in making this work, will be to give an insight into the ‘what it is’ that has made, and still makes, the experience of being at Furzey so unique, and is so hard to put into words…
It didn’t take long to find out the ‘what it is’. It is the people, their experiences and their stories.
‘The people’ whose stories I hope to celebrate are not only the gardeners and people with learning disabilities who work to keep the garden so beautiful, but I will also be looking back over the past century to the stories of the pioneering plant hunters who brought back seeds from all over the globe which are the origins of many of the plants still growing here.
Coincidentally 2022 is also the half-century anniversary of the acquisition of the land by Tim Selwood. He enabled the setting up of the community and I will endeavour to include the story of the community which has been at the heart of this place we love.
I look forward to working with the people with learning disabilities who work at Furzey and who the Trust supports, including the volunteers and members of staff, in order to make photographs, films and installation.
I have launched myself into being at Furzey. Listening, learning, watching… in order to see what will evolve working co-creatively with everyone here.
The techniques/media that I choose to use always depend on the demands of each project. In this case, we are filming, recording stories and making cyanotype photographic prints using leaves and seeds as our subject matter.
Cyanotype is a lens-less technique (no camera at all). Simply place a plant, object or negative onto prepared paper and expose it to the sun or UV light. Then rinse in water.
It’s brilliant because there is very little pollution (none in the garden), no need for a darkroom and the results are instant. The resulting images are often very beautiful. I love the Prussian Blue. The technique was used in pre-photographic times to make botanical studies. Cyanotype Impressions (1843) by Anna Atkins is truly inspiring and considered to be the first book illustrated with photographic images.
And we are filming – using a GoPro action camera. It’s a small, virtually unbreakable camera that can be held in the hand or attached to the body. The people supported by Minstead Trust have been proudly filming their own working process in the nursery and garden and also whilst making the cyanotypes. There has been a lot of laughter, and self-discovery. It’s such a privilege to be here.
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