Day 1: 26th July 2022

First day of the residency!

Courtyard Arts is a thriving arts hub in a quiet corner of Hertford. Once a stables, the gallery has a flagstone floor, sloping ceiling and big french windows looking out onto a courtyard where people have coffee and cake (sold inside). There are two studio spaces making up the two ‘wings’ of the courtyard, one of which is for ceramics and the other for printing and other media. There are always classes and workshops going on, and plenty of curiosity from passing tutors and participants, who asked what I was doing (not surprising, as I was grappling with a lot of colourful modelling balloons and they must have wondered what the hell was going on). Everyone, including Barbara Goult, the gallery manager and my contact, was so friendly and accommodating and I feel like it’s going to be a very sociable month. I love the fact that I can work outside, and just chat to any passers-by.

I’m making an installation in the gallery over the course of a month which is going to recreate (with any luck) a subterranean world of roots and mycellium and interconnections – all out of cardboard. It was strange that yesterday, a huge limb of the aged weeping willow tree at the bottom of our garden sheered off: luckily nobody was hurt. The tree surgeon says the core has become rotten, and the whole tree will have to come down. We are very shocked and upset – we have loved the tree for the 21 years we have lived in the house and it is like a person in our lives. Now I feel that I can honour it by being immersed in the idea of tree roots and underground connectivity.

I’m very open to the community joining in with my project if they want, and several people volunteered their help (children as well as adults). I’ll be taking photos each day showing the evolution of this weird organic structure. Who knows if it will end up like the image in my head … watch this space. And please come and help if you’re in the vicinity!

The new shape of our garden… the wound is behind the climbing frame

That far corner is where I wanted to start, with a huge tap-root coming down from the ceiling and joining the floor. However, I decided to work on it horizontally then put it up (somehow) once I’ve made it – I didn’t fancy being up a ladder for hours.

My cardboard stash (this will last a week or so)

Covering the stuck-together balloons with cardboard-mâché.

This will be dry tomorrow, then I can add another length, with more balloons tied onto the ends of these ones. The fun bit will be popping all the balloons after the cardboard is dry.

The courtyard where I had my lunch (I did have more than one tomato)

I also filled some compost bags with old pillow stuffing, to be covered with mâché. This was less successful than the balloons – too lumpy and bumpy. Will try something else tomorrow.


5 responses to “Day 1: 26th July 2022”

  1. O such fun ideas, bursting with it, wish I was near enough to pop some balloons….xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll leave some for you to do! There will be hundreds… xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Maybe the lumpy bumpy could turn out quite tree trunky?
    So sad about the willow tree. Somehow old trees sense when to fall


    1. Yes, although I’m trying not to ‘descend into meaning’ (Paul Becker [tutor], 2022)…


    2. Yes, and it fell so respectfully, a heavy branch coming to rest lightly on top of our neighbours’ greenhouse without breaking it!


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