Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A special view

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.

This bench marks the beginning of my two week reflection .

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.


Kathy said...

I love the sun shining down on you as you sit and sketch/write (?) on the garden bench. It's wonderful, and your reminiscence of that time is transporting. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I'll always remember my husband and I sitting on a bench in a beautiful park by the lake one day, we sketched the other bench beside us with shrubs behind it....it was such a peaceful day...

I like the bench scene in Notting Hill where Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant are in that garden park on a bench....very romantic

thanks for sharing...


Stan Kurth said...

Wow, what a beautiful description of the bench and its allure. Have you thought about maybe having one or two benches strategically placed in your solo exhibit in May?

Sherwood Harrington said...


That would be a fun project this time around: taking one picture of and one picture from each bench I can find.

Chairs and benches can provide powerful stimuli, can't they? And not all as pleasant as the ones in the Demesne. One in particular that stunned me when I first saw it in 2007 and I still remember frequently is an untitled piece by Doris Salcedo. It resides in San Francisco's DeYoung museum, and can be seen about 3/4 of the way down this old blog post.

Margaret Ryall said...

This was actually one of the few really sunny days we had. Most of my photographs were taken on overcast days. That condition permeates many of my art pieces. I'm actually having fun with this new work!

I rarely pass a bench that I don't have some response to -even the beaten up ones at bus shelters and the delicate ones that don't look strong enough to hold a child. Now you've give me a reason to see Notting Hill again.

I love the idea of the bench in the gallery. My husband just made a lovely cedar bench stained an ebony colour that could be borrowed and placed to face the grid of small bench encaustics I'm preparing. Brilliant!

I didn't know Doris Salcedo work but I do now. The piece you photoed is powerful. There have been a lot of different takes on chairs and benches in the history of art.
I'm expecting wonderful photos of your upcoming trip to Birr. I'm sure there's benches I didn't photo because I just ran out of time and we had quite a bit of rain. I'm not that devoted to art.

layers said...

I have several different types and styles of benches around in my gardens-- as I don't get much time to sit-- they are more for looks darn it.
but you are right-- benches complete the garden