My trip to Inishark and Inishbofin and the 4 Bothies Gallery
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Revisiting 'Hedgerow' - stories from a linear world
I've been checking on some of the hedgerows in my area that were the inspiration for my solo exhibition at the Olivier Cornet Gallery in 2019; how quickly the years have passed. I am comforted to find that most of the hedges have continued to grow undisturbed, except for the occasional cutting back to keep them in check. As Spring progresses, I can see the activity of the birds, as well as badgers, rabbits and foxes all making their mark. The catkins on the hazel are well over by now and the recent rain has soaked the fluffy pussy willow. The buds of the hawthorn are about to burst into creamy froth in May, just as the blackthorn fades away. Every day there are a few changes. Most charming are the primroses which gradually supplant the lesser celandine, those bright first stars of the hedgerow. I can see there will be lots of foxgloves this year by the leaves which are nestling between the rocks at the bottom of the old walls.
Now that we are back to rushing around, being as busy as ever despite the promises we made to ourselves during the lockdowns, a walk along the lane is always a wonderful distraction.
Here are the drawings from the ‘Hedgerow’ - stories from a linear world exhibition.
Prints from the original drawings are still available to order from the Olivier Cornet Gallery www.oliviercornetgallery.com
You can also see the exhibition here
The notes about the drawings below were written during the springtime of 2019.
A walk along a Wicklow hedgerow in early spring
Drawing 1. Earth bank with primroses, elm and willow
In the hedge bank there are lesser celandine, primroses, violets and hart's tongue fern. Spiders shelter under the hanging ivy and nearby a mouse has made its home. In early summer the bumble bees emerge from their little tunnels. A few rose hips from last year cling onto the dog rose, while the elm is flowering early. At the entrance to the next field the willow catkins are full of pollen and a patch of nettles is taking shape. I might find the caterpillars of Peacock or Red Admiral butterflies here later in the year. The badger has been digging for roots and beetles along the hedgerow and the brambles are hanging onto some of last year's leaves, but soon the new ones will burst out.
Drawing 2. Ash with ivy, hawthorn and rocks
Within the brambley hedge the ash trees stretch towards the sky. The ivy is encroaching on them but makes a safe home for small birds. A very old hawthorn clasps the rocks where lords & ladies grow. The lichens on the rocks show how clear the air is around here and I love the dandelions with their sunny faces amongst the grass. They make good bee food. The leaves of foxglove grow between the roots of the hawthorn promising a strong plant in July. Rabbits hunker down as I walk along before flitting back under the hedge. A field fare sings its strident song here with the ash as a grand vantage point while the buzzard wheels overhead with finches in pursuit. Distant sounds of daily life emphasise the peace.
Drawing 3. Plum, hazel, blackthorn and ferns
The briars make an abstract pattern under the hedge, a dark and mysterious place. This is a good spot for blackberries in September. A little wild plum is struggling in the briary mess. The hazel tree with its lamb's tail catkins blowing in the wind has a shiny bronze bark. Below it the fox has a little den amongst the brambles; I've seen him disappear in there a few times. The blackthorn blooms before it sets leaves, in a knarled little copse. Sometimes pheasants peck around the rocks, perhaps they find beetles there. There is stitchwort in the hedge and speedwell amongst the grass along the field edge.
Drawing 4. Elder, stile, gorse, and the sheep gap
Last year's blackbird’s nest survives in the elder tree; I'll come here for elder flowers to make cordial in June. In August the pigeons will be getting drunk on the berries. Here is the stile which takes us across the hedge along the mass path to Enniskerry. The stones are covered in lichens and moss grows in the shade. The gorse smells sweetly of coconut when its butter yellow flowers bloom. The old dead tree feeds fungi and lichens; it looks like it still has a bit of life in it while its bark makes a great shelter for insects. The sheep have broken through here and left some wool behind on the barbs. No doubt a bird will welcome it to line its nest this spring. The young sycamore already has young red leaves while the willow has lots of fluffy pollen laden catkins. Pearls of dew adorn the cobwebs on the sheep fence in the morning.
Drawing 5. Plum, spindle, sycamore and cherry
Down in the corner of the field there's a plum tree and a few spindle trees. The big sycamore has buds fattening and its bark is patterned with lichens. On the rock under the tree I've heard a thrush bash snail shells to pieces and the remains are scattered in the grass there. A group of cherry trees sparkle with blossom and the cherries will be a welcome treat for birds later in the year. At the edge of the meadow there are vetches, herb robert, cow parsley, plantain and daisies. Yellow rattle has recently appeared in the field; the landowner may not be too happy as it is a parasite on grass roots but those of us who love wild meadows welcome it. And all the while the breeze stirs the foliage and the rustling sounds of life around is a constant comfort.