Sleek black glistening fragments lie scattered at the lip of the ranger’s charcoal burner, I had tagged along with a ‘party’ cleaning and re-jigging the flues during my first visit on Arran.
In amongst the abundant flora, fauna and geology of the island a few materials – and colours – stand out and have become the start points for ideas. First among these is charcoal black.
In the woods and gardens of the estate, rangers and gardeners – with the support of volunteers – seek to keep rhododendrons in check; their spread denies light to forest floors and within the gardens, the aim is to halt the spread of a fungal-like disease. Once cut the branches are burnt in situ creating charred circles on the cleared earth, the limbs are transported to the charcoal burner. The ‘good’ charcoal is sold in the shop, whilst 3 sacks of the unsellable stuff – the half-burnt and the dust – sit in my workspace.