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Waders and sketchbook: a-n blog

Updated: Feb 4

Nearly a year ago, the lead designer on the Northcote Nature Reserve project, Dean Griffiths, asked me whether I would be interested in drawing plants from the nature reserve and along the tidal section of the River Crane (the lower reaches that go into the Thames at Isleworth). I couldn't wait to begin.

I’d been making large-scale charcoal drawings of plants that live in the wild, to celebrate the majestic and highlight smaller, less prized plants and weeds. In charcoal on paper with roots revealed, the drawings expose the plants’ fragility and reflect their susceptibility on the planet.

Choosing plants that grow in the wild, I wish to give them equal status to garden plants. Whilst we look at plants for their beauty, their role in supporting our ecosystem and natural world is fundamental: without them, humans would not be here.

The appeal of this project to me is that it would give my work more focus and agency. Working at a specific site, where other groups of people are actively working to preserve and improve the natural biodiversity, my drawings would hopefully add another perspective. Next to Northcote Nature Reserve is a large hut that is planned to be a visitor hub and centre for a physic garden. If all goes well, when it opens, my drawings will also be part of the story and exhibited there. The renovation of the building is a separate project to the nature reserve, still in the planning.

But I had two exhibitions coming up in September 2022 and May/June 2023 and so could not get started in earnest until now.

Some background

Northcote Nature Reserve, is situated off Northcote Avenue, along the River Crane and was formerly a neglected recreation ground, sometimes known as Pit Park. Local residents have worked to transform it into a nature reserve and wildlife sanctuary, working with London Borough of Hounslow, as well as a number of partner organisations including the Environment Agency, London Wildlife Trust, Crane Valley Partnership, FORCE (Friends of the River Crane Environment) and the Tidal Crane Association.

Construction work has been underway over the last year and the reserve is due to open to the public by Summer 2023 (yes, round about now!).

The River Crane is a Thames Tributary that in 1990 was designated a Site of Metropolitan importance for its biodiversity and unique tidal habitat.

My studio at Redlees Studios is a 10 minute walk from the River Crane.

Writing my process

I started accumulating photos and notes from day 1 and thought this blog would help me organise them (and my thoughts!). And by documenting it, the narrative also becomes part of the work.

To read my blog in a-n, click here

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