Mary Gartside

Category : Art, Books, collage, Color
Date : February 1, 2024
White
Yellow
Orange
Scarlet
Green
Blue
Crimson
Violet



Find more information on Alexandra Loske and her colour research, here. Mary Gartside (c.1755-1819) Abstract Visions of Colour published by Thomas Heneage Art Books


grey

Category : Art, Books, collage, Color, Poetry
Date : January 28, 2024
morning collage/watercolor
responding to the objects on my table
Geoff Young chap book
paste paper folder
tangled threads
or the grey outside



greyed:
            palest grey to white
            violet grey
            pink cosmos grey
            violets dropped in milk grey
            a drop of cobalt blue grey
            orangesicle ice cream grey
            sunpoked through yellow grey
            old yellowed newspaper grey
            grey green sky portends rain

ROY G BIV

Category : Art, Books
Date : December 13, 2023
“The human eye can perceive over a million different varieties of color, but the human brain has better things to do than name them all.”

“Newton segmented the spectrum into just seven named colors:
the classic ROY G BIV divisions.”  

“While this might have seemed arbitrary, much later research by anthropologists concluded that most cultures at least have names for

black, white, red, green, yellow and blue: 

six basic color terms typically in that order, as if there were an innate hierarchy.”
[ from Neil Parkinson, “The History of Color:  A Universe of Chromatic Phenomena”]





artist fellowship at Winterthur

Date : December 6, 2023
90,000 artifacts (textiles, ceramics, furniture, ironwork….)
20,000 American & European imprints
3,000 record groups of manuscripts, trade cards, photographs, ephemera
7,500 plant specimens
1,000 acres
+Specialists, Conservators, 
+Librarians, Archivists,
+Curators, Gardeners,
+Scientists, Fellows

“Research is a material”
and earlier this year,
as a Maker-Creator Fellow,
I explored Winterthur's Shaker collection
(and others) and loved every second
of researching, working with archivists, 
conservators, curators,
fellows and librarians;
and walking on their incredible grounds.

Artists & Makers
consider applying for 
Winterthur’s Maker-Creator Fellowship!
Happy to answer any questions.
Applications due 1/15/2024
 
Application info right HERE

three essentials

Date : August 10, 2020

This past week, Sarah Margolis-Pineo, Curator at Hancock Shaker Village and I went on a field trip to meet our collaborator at Camphill Village for a tour.  It wasn’t the astoundingly beautiful and plentiful herb garden or creative energy found in the neat stacks of bound books and elaborate calligraphy that took my breath away (and believe me they did), but the three essentials that Camphill is founded on.

Three Essentials

1—Recognition that in every human being lives an eternal healthy spirit no matter the disability.

2—Every human being has the right and responsibility to learn and develop.

3—Continuous striving to create community.


“plant-conscious” aka summer reading list 2019

Category : Books
Date : June 24, 2019

And so, we provide our summer reading list.

Summer brings us out into the garden and woods, appreciating nature’s daily changes and honing in on all the residents, both flora and fauna.  Early mornings before working in the garden and rainy afternoons are spent reading to become more “plant-conscious,” as author Richard Powers terms it.

——————————————————————————————————————


The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells (Tim Duggan Books, 2019).

“Personally, I think that climate change itself offers the most invigorating picture, in that even its cruelty flatters our sense of power, and in so doing calls the world, as one, to action.  At least I hope it does.  But that is another meaning of the climate kaleidoscope.  You can choose your metaphor.  You can’t choose your planet, which is the only one any of us will ever call home.” (pp. 228-9).

Casting Deep Shade by C. D. Wright (Copper Canyon Press, 2019)

Ben Lerner writes in the introduction, “It is a book full of love and admiration for eccentric arborists and purveyors of folk knowledge, for they are—like the poet—committed to keeping the language and landscape particular, unpredictable, collective. Committed to preserving these slow-growth kinetic sculptures [beech trees] under siege by profiteers and voles. This is an uncommonplace book.” (p. x)

“Journal of Medicinal Plant Conservation,” A United Plant Savers Publication (United Plant Savers, 2019).

“The Theme is Voices from the Land, with intent to share indigenous perspectives in relationship with plants.  This perspective is most profound in the article on white sage and the conflict with commercialization and cultural appropriation of a plant sacred to many…”We have filled this issue with international perspectives on how medicinal plants are managed, such as the innovations in Bulgaria and the impact of communism in regards to the medicinal plant trade in Albania…”In a rapidly changing environment we have a story from the Marshall Islands dealing with climate change, the opportunity of using invasive plants as medicine…”Stories from our Botanical Sanctuary Network and featured artists from our Deep Ecology Art Fellowship bring creativity to how we can enrich our relationship with plants and in return heal ourselves and the planet.” (p. 2)

The Art and Science of Natural Dyes: Principles, Experiments and Results by Joy Boutrup and Catharine Ellis (Schiffer Books, 2018)

“For millennia, humans perceived color through nature and its reflections in human interpretation. Throughout the ages and around the world, dyers relied on the colors obtained from plants, fungi, lichen, insects, shellfish, and rock minerals…”We want to understand how dyes and mordants work and how different types of fibers react to dyes, mordants, tannins, water, heat and ulturviolent rays…”Having very clear and precise instructions to follow helps us achieve that goal, but unless we understand the whybehind the how, we won’t be able to make the most intelligent decisions when changing circumstances require that recipes be altered…”Taking such factors into account, this book creates a bridge between art and science, showing us the way.”  (p. 8).

Shaker Herbs: A History and A Compendium by Amy Bess Miller (Clarkson N. Potter, 1976).

“An anonymous Shaker editor of the medicinal herb catalog published by the New Lebanon society gave his readers a bonus—a “supplementary” in 1851 which today would be termed a preface. This was the first time such a statement appeared in a Shaker medicinal marketing publication.  It reflects the reasons the Shakers felt so much care and effort should go into the production of medicinal products:

“Perhaps no study contributes more to the length, utility, and pleasure of existence—which adds to health, cheerfulness and enlarged views of creative wisdom and power, and which improves the morals, tastes and judgment, more than the science of botany.” (p. x).

A Life Made by Hand: The Story of Ruth Asawa by Andrea D’Aquino (will be published in early September by Princeton Architectural Press).

“Ruth looked carefully at everything around her.
“What kind of plant are you? she wondered.“

“What a fascinating shape your shell is, Snail.”

“Hello Spider.
How did you figure out how to make your web?”

“Ruth liked to look at the drops of water in her garden.
She often stopped to notice how the light shone through their delicate shapes.”

——————————————————————————————————————–


Trees.  Plants.  Dyes. Herbal Medicines.  Hands.  And only one Earth. 


summer reading list

Category : Art, Books, Farm, Nature, Plants
Date : July 5, 2018

Summer promises the great outdoors: time to explore new terrains or become more familiar with the world found on your doorstep.  As a primer to our summer exploration, we have been delving into ‘nature based’ reading.

on a colonial farm’s recommended summer reading list:

Carlos MagdalenaThe Plant Messiah:  Adventures in Search of the World’s Rarest Species(New York:  Doubleday, 2017), pg. 6.

“I want to make the world aware of what plants do for us.  I want us to give plants a value and appreciate what they do. I want us to understand their importance for our survival and the survival of our families—our babies, grandparents, and future generations.  I want us to realize that without them we would die, and most living things on land in the air would die with us.  I want us to be enthused by the importance of conservation, to be fired with determination that we should never give up, even if there is only one plant left in the world.  I want us to understand the importance of plants so much that we are moved to do something about it.”

 

Diana Beresford-Kroeger, The Global Forest 40 Ways Trees Can Save Us, (New York:  Penguin Group, 2010), pg. 69.

“But art has a sister.  The sibling is science.  Art and science are of the same house, of the same family.  Art in all its forms opens the way for science, because art is the precursor to science in all things.  Art sounds the bell of change that leads to discovery, and science runs in to listen, to test, and to learn.  Art sometimes molds and other times reflects the thoughts of culture and then defines the tides of fashion.  Science follows in the wake of those tides and looks back at the great fetch of “why” to derive the question “how.”

“There is some time left. There is time for a different way of thinking in which man can rethread the needle and sew a life for the future. For if nature is destroyed, art will stand still and the creativity of science will follow suit. “

 

Tristan Gooley, The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs, (New York:  The Experiment, 2010),  pg 3.

“Picking up one simple scent can take the mind on an extraordinary journey.  Sense and thought, observation and deduction, this two-step process is the key to transforming a walk from mind-numbing to synapse-tingling.  One cannot work without the other; the brain can build wondrous edifices in our mind but it requires the scaffold that our senses provide.”

 

 

Richard Powers, The Overstory, (New York: W.W. Norton, 2018), pgs.  454-455.

‘ “Trees stand at the heart of ecology, and they must come to stand at the heart of human politics. Tagore said, Trees are the earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven…..If we could see green, we’d see a thing that keeps getting more interesting the closer we get.  If we could see what green was doing, we’d never be lonely or bored.  If we could understand green, we’d learn how to grow all the food we need in layers three deep, on a third of the ground we need right now, with plants that protected one another from pests and stress. If we knew what green wanted, we wouldn’t have to chose between the Earth’s interests and ours.  They’d be the same.” ‘

 

Andrea Barnet,  Visionary Women: How Rachel Carson, Jane Jacobs, Jane Goodall and Alice Waters Changed Our World(New York: Ecco, 2018), pg. 330.

“People ask how can I as one person can make a difference……But if we can start making considered choices in our everyday actions, the little things – what we buy, what we wear, if we think carefully about the consequences of these choices – how it was made, where did it come from, was it child slave labor, was it cruelty to animals, etc., then we can start making different choices. Small choices. But multiply these small choices by a hundred, a thousand, a million and then a billion and then you start to see a different kind of world.”  Jane Goodall.

 

I will be tucking wildflower, bird and trees guides into my bag this summer, along with newly handmade books to start mapping what I see, hear and smell around the farm.  Delving deeper into where I live and what lives around me, guided by the thought that all is connected, and that by our choices we can make a difference.

 

[Note:  Click on Author’s name for their website, including Carson, Jacobs, Goodall and Waters.]

 


in bloom

Category : Books, Nature, Plants
Date : April 18, 2018

We eagerly await the arrival of spring, more so this morning as snow flakes floated down to outline branches, leaves and stone walls as only newly fallen snow can do. We’ve had a few warm days sprinkled here and there in the past few weeks, but not enough to truly turn the corner and bring on full spring.

Saturday marks the start of the Spring Wildflower Festival at Bartholomew’s Cobble, as well as my third year as a wildflower guide there. On bitterly cold Saturdays in March, we guides gathered to discuss the geology of the site, the area’s ecology and the associated plant botany. We trudged through ice and snow over the trails, imagining the emergence of the green shoots and later lacy spring flowers. Bartholomew’s Cobble is a National Natural Landmark and we owe the rare diversity of the plant life to geological action that occurred 420 million years ago that results in both quartzite (acid) and marble (base) existing side by side–not a normal occurrence.

The “What’s In Bloom’ board at Bartholomew’s Cobble from May 2017

 

In preparation for my walks, I delve deeply into each plant’s characteristics, but I also search for the writings of others that found fleeting ephemerals.

Emily Dickinson, gardener and poet, reports of an 1848 spring walk to her friend Abiah Root:

“There were several pleasure parties of which I was a member, and in our rambles we found many and many beautiful children of Spring, which I will mention and see if you have found them — the trailing arbutus, adder’s tongue, yellow violets, liver leaf, bloodroot and many other small flowers.” 1

Mary Oliver recounts slipping away from school one spring day:

“I walked, all one spring day, upstream, sometimes in the midst of ripples, sometimes along the shore. My company were violets, Dutchman’s-breeches, spring beauties, trilliums, bloodroot, ferns rising so curled one could feel the upward push of the delicate hairs upon their bodies…The beech leaves were just slipping their copper coats; pale green and quivering they arrived into the year. My heart opened, and opened again. “2

On April 3, 1853 , Henry David Thoreau notices one of spring’s smallest flowers:

“To my great surprise the early saxifrage is in bloom. It was, as it were, by mere accident that I found it. I had not observed any particular forward news in it, when happening to look under a projecting rock in a little nook on the south side of a stump I spied one little plant which had opened three or four blossoms high up the cliff. Evidently you must look very sharp and faithfully to find the first flower. Such is the advantage of position.”

Bartholomew’s Cobble rightly boasts about its spring ephemerals and many noted and seen by Dickinson, Oliver and Thoreau—adder’s tongue, bloodroot, blue cohosh, Dutchman’s-breeches, fringed polygala, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, liver leaf, spring beauty, rue anemone, trillium, saxifrage, wild columbine, and violets are there, for example. Stop by on Saturdays and Sundays for guided tours, or ramble on the Ledges trail on your own with eyes wide open. As Oliver notes, “Attention is the beginning of devotion.”4

1, Judith Farr, The Gardens of Emily Dickinson, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004), pg.97.

2. Mary Oliver, Upstream, (New York: Penguin Press, 2016), pgs 4-5.

3. Geoff Wisner, Thoreau’s Wildflowers, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016), pg. 16.

4.Oliver, pg. 8

Note:  I will be leading tours on April 21 at 12pm, April 22 at 10pm and May 13th at 3pm.  There are guided tours on Saturday and Sunday, 10am, 12pm, 2pm & 3pm. Bartholomew’s Cobble, 105 Weatougue Road, Ashley Falls, Sheffield, MA.

Second Note:  A documentary about Emily Dickinson, Seeing New Englandly will be shown at the Roelieff Jansen Community Library on April 28 at 4pm, 9019 Route 22, Hillsdale, NY.


written words

Category : Books, Correspondence
Date : March 27, 2018

Letters are relics and treasure troves of information, transporting one right back to exact moments in time.

A few years ago, my husband, busy insulating and putting on new clapboards, found a cache of letters in the walls of our old house. These letters were written during 1868-69 from a young man, Joseph, living in our home, to a young woman, Kittie, residing five miles down the road, quite a distance at that time. The bundle only included his letters, which recounted his daily life on this farm, expressed his love for her and told of their eventual break in friendship. Did he ask for the return of the letters or did she bundle them up, delivering them before she headed west? From the inside of the house, there wasn’t a hole in the wall or any other indication what lurked behind.  Perhaps, Joseph couldn’t bear to throw them out and sealed them in the wall for safekeeping. Over the past months, I have talked with his relatives, but none knew of his early love for Kittie. Despite my researching at the local historical society, I cannot locate any information about her. Time for more sleuthing.

Possibly, reading his correspondence primed me for delving into more volumes of letters. Lately, M.F.K Fisher’s letters (1929-1991) have absorbed me, allowing me to journey along as she struggled with her writing, penned many books, traveled across the country and abroad, and lived a very full life raising two daughters. Even though we only have Fisher’s letters, over time one begins to know her sisters, husbands, family and friends, and follow the path of her life. After listening to the novel The Indigo Girl recounting a distinct chapter of the life of Eliza Lucas Pinckney (1722-1793), I had to read Pinckney’s letters (on which the book is based). Seventeen year old, Eliza was left in charge of her father’s farm in South Carolina. Saddled with debt, she initiated many farming endeavors, including the farming of indigo. Due to its success, many other farms began to grow and harvest indigo. And this morning found me deep into Letters To A Young Farmer, a series of letters written to inspire, bolster and advise new farmers. Each one is penned with passion for the land and the love of farming. All three books are quite different as to time and place and trades, but all offer a glimpse into a how a life was lived and the paths chosen.

“You are so young, so much before all beginning…have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and…try to love the questions themselves as if they were in locked rooms or in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

Rainer Maria Rilke, from Letters to a Young Poet, 1929. (1)

 

1-Letters to a Young Farmer On Food Farming and Our Future, Princeton Architectural Press, 2017, pg. 1.

Natasha Boyd, The Indigo Girl, Blackstone Publishing, 2017.

M.F.K Fisher, A life in Letters Correspondence 1929-1990 selected and compiled by Norah K Barr, Marsha Moran, Patrick Moran, Counterpoint, 1997.

Eliza Lucas Pinckney, The Letterbook of Eliza Lucas Pinckney, The University of North Carolina Press, 1972.


“honey from a weed”

Category : Books, Farm, Kitchen, Nature
Date : January 15, 2018

“As Carl Wilkens wrote when we make something with our hands, it changes the way we feel, which changes the way we think, which changes the way we act.” (1)

To make something whole. What does that mean exactly? Does that mean to construct an object from start to finish, as one would carve a bowl from a burl? Or perhaps, to take a discarded or broken item and make it anew, to renew it? To find food, an entire meal, from items deemed ‘weeds’?

As a way to transition into this new year, I set my mind to reading and listening to works by writers and makers. Terry Tempest Williams has been reading me her book on the sacred lands of our National Parks, The Hour of the Land. Many artists have been telling me their ‘making history’ via the Make/Time podcast series. And Adam Federman revealed the life of Patience Gray to me in his new biography, Fasting and Feasting.

Patience Gray, author of the legendary cookbook Honey from a Weed, lived what one could term a spare life, for she and her partner Norman Mommens chose to live “…for more than thirty years in a remote corner of southern Italy–without electricity, modern plumbing, or telephone.” (2) Yet, their lives were rich for the food she gathered and cooked, and for the sculptures he carved from marble, and for the landscape in which they situated themselves.

Gray was quite concerned with the dangers of “consumerland” and wrote about integrating life and art together in her columns for the Observer. In her 1960 article, “Crafts from Obscurity,” she noted, “Can you be touched by the delicate pinks, mauves, magentas, poppy tones in woven hangings without first having seen rock roses, wild mallows, oleander, or cornfields ablaze with poppy, in a landscape of scrub and stone?…Once the outside world has broken in with its promise of Lambrettas and refrigerators and hire-purchase, the self-sufficiency of a village culture is finished.”(3)

What would Gray say to our ‘interconnected world’? Would she relish in the internet and one’s ability to glean information in an instant? It seems rather unlikely, especially as she alludes to these types of modern burdens in an interview on the BBC:

“Life has become burdensome, in a way, in its demands on people. And I can lead them to a bit of daydreaming, which is rather out of fashion now, isn’t it? You could say that I have sort of responded against the present time where I feel that nothing is sacred. It’s a counterpoint to that. Because things are sacred. That’s what I feel.” (4)

Gray wanted her readers to not only daydream but to gather food and sustenance for the mind and soul. “Living in the wild, it has often seemed that we are living on the margins of literacy. This led to reading the landscape and learning from people, that is to first hand experience.” (5)

Each year, I attempt to delve deeper into the landscape directly outside of our front door, not only by observing the seasonal differences, but by also using what is directly at hand for food, healing and dyeing. Over the next months, chapter by chapter, Patience Gray will be my guide to not only the realm of daydreaming, but to the logistics of making whole through our environs.

 

 

Terry Tempest Williams, The Hour of the Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks, (New York, Sarah Crichton Books, 2016), pg. 140 (1)

Adam Federman, Fasting and Feasting: The Life of Visionary Food Writer Patience Gray, (White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2017), Introduction(2), pg. 89 (3), pg. 304 (4.).

Patience Gray, Honey from a Weed: Fasting and Feasting in Tuscany, Catalonia, The Cycllades and Apulia, (New York: Harper and Row,1987), pg. 11. (5)

Note: Tune into the Make/Time podcast series.


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