Pre-occupied with other projects, today was the first time in a while ‘my glade’ sprung to mind, perhaps because during an early walk I saw a scattering of cones on my path as if the woods were playing a haphazard game of marbles.

I realised there’s still many more images – interventions other than the cut leaves – that should be shared.reflection The burnt rings on the dead bushes are likely to remain looking the same, but I imagine their ‘leaf collars’ are long gone – unless someone with a sense of order has replaced them. All the cut segments of leaves had been caught, gathered up and strewn within a circle of leaf mould scuffled into a low perimeter – again with a collar of ‘aperture’ leaves – I imagine that too no longer exists; too many happy dogs tearing through in pursuit of a nameless smell. Hopefully other interventions are replacing mine where children, wind and trees – in a repeating cycle – play and rearrange and play.

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Invitation to Play

I have so many images from the launch now, yet when I think about publishing some I feel overwhelmed: which? How many? sbb Brodick signageBecause the reality is I would prefer to meet you there! We could explore and play in the glade together.

I get glimpses of other’s visits: who has followed the discrete signage made by the rangers, who has ‘liked’ their online invitations to go there, to play.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd I wonder how many visitors passing the ‘gardener’s tree’ at reception notice the label: Rhododendron k arranensis?

Instinctively I bought a carnet of tickets for the ferry, knowing I’d have 2 journeys ‘left over’, I like this tangible connection and want to remain witness to the ongoing, changing nature of the project. Perhaps feeling so close to it still is inhibiting my ability to select images that could ‘sum it all up’.

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State of Play

The rhodi’s are growing, the terminal buds opening into leaves – not the flowers I had anticipated. The pink tip opens to momentarily form a crown of ‘petals’ around the pale soft baby leaves within. I cut some.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The phrase ‘kill your babies’ flits through my thoughts as I ruin the downy surface with clumsy fingers and watch sap tearing along my rough cuts, a disturbing experience and yet curiosity drives me on.

Beneath the trees older leaves have already fallen, one white, another bright yellow, the cut shape more startling off the tree than on it.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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arranensis is here

The first Sorbus arranensis leaf I saw was a wet brown thing lifted from the mulch under the tree by the Ranger Centre. In my haste – amid preparing for the launch – I nearly missed re-visiting that tree now so resplendent in flower and with each new leaf exquisite – perfectly and uniquely ‘cut’.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo Sunday 2pm, there we were a small reception team huddled under the Rhododendron k arranensis in Cnocan Glade wondering if anyone would willingly join us in the rain. We watched the sky glow darker, the lightening flash through and fat drops of ‘tree rain’ plop into our prosecco cups and we toasted our unluck. The germans have a phrase: Glück im Unglück and that was ours, as the visitors arrived, the rain withdrew leaving globes of sunlight pooling wet leaves; a fitting backdrop as Sara read her story.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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The Story

The story is written, it’s incredible! And it’s unfair to give anything more than a flavour rowanhere:

“The Rowan tree, Sorbus aucuparia, the mountain ash, the traveller’s tree; a laughing pioneer, it grows where other trees dare not go – further north, higher up in the free mountain air, crouching low against the vicious hill winds and the arctic blasts. Birches huddle together against the cold, but the rowan strides out alone, solitary and bold.”

I am really looking forward to hearing it read – by the author – on Sunday in Cnocan Glade. It’s about the place, the trees, the nature of change and so much more besides. Each time I read it another element – seamlessly woven in – leaps into life.

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Cuts and Splices

“It’s funny doing everything remotely, firing things off into space and waiting for them to come back again…”

I love this snippet from the to and fro of emails with artist/film-maker Catherine Weir. After filming on Arran she has distilled – from hours of ‘footage’ (pixelage?) – this wee film:

Cut, spliced, chopped and shuffled, it’s been a quest for essence, a long process – with considerable patience on Catherine’s part – through which I have come to realise I prefer being behind the artwork (and not spot-lit; describing what I’d really prefer others to find – or seek – for themselves). But I’m curious to know what others think.

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A Gardener’s Promise

The Gardeners promised to make a planter and find a specimen tree that would ‘advertise’ the artwork at Reception. They are busy people – my expectations weren’t high – but I was taken aback by the loveliness of their choices.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe planter is bespoke and ‘charred’ (we had talked about burning as a transitional process in the nature of change: tree to wood to charcoal), the tree is perfectly proportioned and – not least – the surface beneath is of undisturbed moss, grass and fern.

Gardeners, rangers and farmers: all choose their work – I assume – for the love of being outside. But where they may wield saws, loppers and secateurs I have been tackling rhodi’s with a pair of children’s scissors. Neither topiary nor forestry – my aim is neither management nor adornment – I modify, selecting one leaf where it nudges another, as if a genetic mutation were at work instigated through touch.

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Looking Different

I’m thinking about slowing down, normally associated with ‘getting old’ – check – but in this instance taking more time to really look.
The artwork is slow-burn and needs ‘different’ eyes to process its qualities (which are partly about just being there).
So as well as ‘rowanising’ magnificum leaves, I cut apertures into a heap of fallen ones in the hope visitors might tarry a while, pick one up and focus using the limiting frame (of vision) to capture detail otherwise overlooked; the nose-up-close-style seeing of an attentive bee, rather than the ‘glance and move on’ of a regular human’s woodland walk.

I’m hoping for more. After the launch, opportunities for me to visit the work will be limited and yet it will continue to change. So in the hope others might lend me their eyes, I have set up a Flickr site to collect ‘framed’ images of the work. If you visit please tarry, take a photo and upload it to:


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The Green

Leaves sliced, stumps charred, moss, logs and leaf-litter lifted and shifted; we are almost there, almost ready for the official map detail
But where is ‘there’?
The site hasn’t got a name. On first visiting I wrote ‘Jo’s Rhodi’s’ in my notebook – on account of the volunteer who first suggested the spot. Then it became ‘The Glade’, but the estate is full of ‘glades’, so something more defining was needed. At the head of the Ryden Trail: ‘Ryden Grove’ became an option (‘grove’ sounding more Scots than ‘glade’) only it’s rather mundane – suggestive of a housing estate in Hull.

With five of us mulling over possibilities ‘The Grove Clad in Green’ adapted from a song by Rabbie Burns became a favourite. Though a tad long for printing on maps; so I imagine either ‘Ryden’s Glade’ or ‘The Green’ hosting the launch at 2pm on May 25. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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