It was really good to be back to photograph at Martineau on Sunday. It has been a busy year and and too many things have been left far too long on the shelf. The peace that the gardens generate and experiencing it as a place for meditation and reflection has been sorely missed. Much work has been done here in the past few months and the place is looking better than ever.
Having the time to reflect for a short while I realise I need to complete this project. I also would like to showcase how valuable a resource Martineau Gardens is to the community and encourage more people to go and also contribute. Martineau Gardens does not receive a fund from external sources and runs on charitable donations, plant sales and hire of the venue. I hope a photographic exhibition will help to achieve some of these goals and pay the organisation back for some of the most peaceful and creative moments of the last year or so.
I normally shy of making New Year resolutions but my major task in 2016 will be to pull the project together and find a place to exhibit the work.
An interesting if short time spent at Martineau Gardens this morning. It is just over a year now since I started photographing there and have been thinking I need to look at organising a venue to show the work.
I was also pondering on what I have done with the project at Martineau. When I started I had a notion that I would be mainly focusing on the seasons and the cycle of growth and death. I have since discovered layers of meaning and experience within the gardens. Of course there is the element of plant life, the different types of area and the glasshouse and other interior structures. but a public community garden is also about the people. The people who work there, the volunteers and the users. From a Tai Chi group to private parties everyone has a separate and individual experience of the space. They also leave an imprint on the feeling of the place and sometimes some physical evidence.
As a photographer I am also a user, taking from the gardens but also hoping I can give something back. I have become enchanted by Martineau Gardens. Observing the changes both of the seasons and the continuous maintenance gives me some of the ingredients I need to make images. The quiet atmosphere allows me to reflect and meditate, finding evidence of human use inspires me to bring everything together into the images I make.
I have just been looking at recent images and have realised that it’s 5 weeks since I last visited Martineau. Commitments seem to be piling up outside of work time and its sometimes difficult to achieve a balance. I am soon going to post 2 new areas on the Website: ‘Horizon’ which is a culmination of an exploration of landscape in Norfolk; and one which is going to be called ‘Midlands’. This is a new project which hopefully will develop some of the themes within my landscape work in the Midlands a bit further. I’m not sure the name will stay in the long term as it is early days for the project but am pleased with some of the images I have made so far.
I must get back to photographing at Martineau this month, the sands are getting thinner by the day!
At last I feel as if I’m re-connecting with Martineau Gardens and pushing my project forwards. I had an intense session earlier, although I’m finding it difficult to understand how a meditative period can be intense at the same time. Going through the photos will take a few days but a couple of images in particular stand out for me so far. Here’s one of them:
It was nice to go back yesterday to take some more photographs, even though only for a short time. I felt I’d lost a bit of contact with the gardens but was very quickly entranced by the quality of the light. Shame I had to leave so early. I’m looking forwards to going soon with my new camera which should arrive tomorrow. I’ve been getting more and more obsessed with the sharpness in my images since the cataract operation in January. The new camera will hopefully help me deal with my obsession.
Some of my favourite photographs from the project include objects in a setting: pottery pieces, watering cans, buildings and furniture. These mix together man-made and natural forms. The juxtaposition is quite poignant for me and reflect my experience of a well-managed natural space with evidence of usage – gardening and activities (pottery and the play area).
I am interested in taking photographs show process – things in transition as the seasons change and time progresses. Seedlings that were under fleece early in the year have become plants for sale or are in the ground developing well, flowers have become to appear in proliferation. The objects become symbolic and reflect the various activities in the gardens, underpinned by the more natural forms.
I was looking at what I’ve done at Martineau so far and wondering / reviewing my experience of the gardens
I have photographed a lot of natural landscapes over the past few years and continue to do so, particularly at Norfolk. Photographing at Martineau Gardens it is very different from my experience of being in the landscape. Everything is considered, even the wildlife area. While photographing I am very aware of the care and attention given to the space in terms of planting and presenting a range of areas for people (and wildlife) to enjoy.
I realise that most of the countryside is managed and there are very few rugged and truly wild areas left. I think it is the concentration here, and the scale of the different areas that makes the difference. The transition between managed and wild is very small indeed.
I always start a photo visit to the gardens with some trepidation, today was no exception. I visited last week and had a great afternoon. I met an old friend who was there for a party but didn’t manage to get the focus I needed to get the best out of the experience, although a few are OK. Today I felt I needed to produce some good images to make up for lost time, but worried I could not go deep enough after the last visit. I had purchased a new lens recently and last week was also about getting to know it and learn how to get the best out of it.
During a break my worries were lessened. The beauty of the gardens draws me in. I start taking photographs and am constantly thinking about composition, exposure etc. After a while I am just responding, camera and technique forgotten. For me Martineau is a place of reverie and wonder, a mixture of natural and the work of people who use it and also work here. Beautiful pieces of pottery made at the workshop mingle with natural forms. Chairs and watering cans (there’s a lot of them here) give spaces in the gardens a feeling of occupation.
I find that an hour or more has gone by and I’ve been photographing in just a small space of the gardens. I need to venture wider, maybe starting in a different place in future visits.
Went (finally!) to Martineau to take some photos. There was an end of season do on in the gardens for the Birmingham Opera Society. I met with an old friend, Marcia Gregory. It was really nice catching up on old times. I hope the photos I took yesterday are as nice.