Since moving to Wales, we have considered and reconsidered how to manage two fields, the residue of a farm last worked years ago. We arrived here in April with all the grasses and flowers erupting, their verier beauty particularly vivid compared to the surrounding farmed land. Meadow had long been reforming. So we thought how to enhance it, help it along, play a part in what was going on. We would walk these fields daily with our cats, scheming, watching the ongoing show, distribution of light as species grew, seeded, gathered birds and insects, and finally on the edge of autumn were cut. We acquired some wild flower seeds, selectively trimmed the hedged to re-find individual trees, planted some, kept walking, talking, working on the idea of these fields.
The seeds remain unplanted. Each year the fields do just about what they did the year before, but slightly different: new species arrive, old ones have greater or less ascendancy. And each year our original enthusiasm is modified by the nature of the fields about their business.
The other week traversing a high ridge of beech trees in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, having walked up past the Moores and Hepworths, a series of shed size milk crate sculptures, we stepped through a kissing gate. Along our left was a rebuilt dry stone wall abutting another running away down a gully and to the right higher up. A section was unfinished, the stones lying about waiting to be organised into the wall. Large stone steps took us onto the ground above that then descended toward ponds. Looking back there was no wall: a totally constructed effect now restated for whoever might walk their dog, imagination.
I thought: nice wall, the skill and simplicity of it, the way it gathers in, bends consideration to its surroundings.
We had been to a ceramics fair the day before to see friends, what people were working on, the aesthetic and technical solutions. The stone wall in the woods overwhelmed everything we had seen there, perhaps because it asked one to be aware of what was around it more than of itself. I could imagine it tumbling down over the years from the pressure of frost and roots and burrowing, being rebuilt much the same but slightly different, a thing evolving, always there one way or another, not needing storage or insurance.
You can see here an interest in the discrepancy between such easy graces and the way we seem to go about creating what we do for special attention. And sometimes it feels as if I should have an opinion about such things, but to do so seems rebarbative to the surprises that give delight wherever they might appear. Of course, I carry on doing my thing and take pleasure getting on with it, the process that occasionally produces something with resonance beyond itself, the making, remaking, doing again, working over the same terrain, the ordinariness of it, thinking, this time maybe . . . But it doesn’t happen like a field, a wall.
So I go on like anyone else finding interesting what for me separates one thing’s appeal from another, worry it, forget it, pursue the hubris of my luck to be making at all after most of a life otherwise, seeing how things succeed and fail in their own ways.
Perhaps there’s something in that I’m writing this while early stoking a kiln realising how relative a part I now have in what will be unpacked eventually.