It is difficult to roam around a garden and ignore benches. The artful gardener knows just where a bench is needed and why it should be placed there. There is a control element in garden design and benches in particular can be used to order a garden visitor's experiences.
Benches can be beautiful and functional at the same time. There's no limit to the materials used to create them; twigs, metal, wood, stone, tree stumps, ceramic and even more obscure materials make bench construction interesting and a bit of an art form.
Some benches are tucked away, waiting to be discovered, others sit in the open or in wild areas where you would never expect to see one. A garden bench calls out to me to sit and view my surroundings. It's a seated perspective and a long view. Because you take time and you are closer to the ground your observations are keener. Your pace is automatically slowed and your mind follows suit. In this freed state the world around you is ready for your approval. Contemplation and reflection are invited. I had plenty of opportunities for this type of viewing during my two week stay at Birr Castle Demesne. Because I sat and wrote on different benches every day, my journey through the gardens is tied to them.
Early morning, it is cool and quiet and there is dew on the grass. (Believe me not the date and time on the photo!) The gardens are not yet open to the public. I hear the distant hum of a machine and the wood pigeons are sending up their usual chorus. My travelling companions are fast asleep in The Bothy and the world is mine to explore.
Sun's out but it is still cool. We've been out travelling about the countryside but through it all I long for my reflection time.
I can still conjure up how I felt on these benches and now I've begun nine small 8 x 10 encaustic works for my show that will represent this section of my experiences "Reading a Garden". There's much more to come on this topic.