A stroll along a woodland path

One of the things I love about art is its immediacy. Often artists are hit by an idea from their surroundings or their contemporary experiences. Their art can be a glimpse into the way they see the world. Sometimes this can be quite confronting; other times comforting.

Today we visited an NGS garden owned by a couple, one of whom is an artist. David Paynter is a dab hand at most types of artistic endeavour. His garden is littered with his work. He also dabbles in poetry. When he finishes a work he is often compelled to write about the effect the piece has on him. This expression is via poetry.

One of the pieces that really affected Mirinda was called Janis.

Utilising the concept of the Roman two faced god Janus, it features a head with two faces, one open and smiling, the other encased in a mask and head-covering, eyes closed. It is poignant, up-to-date and frightening.

And here is David’s accompanying poem:

Janis by David Paynter
Masked and faceless
But oh, so welcome
When the chips are down.
Tired and faceless
In the face of death,
She cares until she can’t
And then she cares some more.

Unmasked she’s you or me
With friends and fears and faith.
A smile for a better future,
Another face for another day.
But while we wait,
She’ll care until she can’t
And then she’ll care some more.

At first glance Mirinda was put off and dismissed it as horrid. But then, slowly, the piece worked on her and, with the poem as commentary, she realised what the work was saying. Art doesn’t have to be ‘nice’ to be effective.

We spent a little time chatting with David and his wife. Every year they hold an art festival in their garden for the Surrey Artists Open Studio events. This year the dates are a little bit later than normal. As it turns out, that’s good for us. Having never heard of it, we are definitely going come October.

Apart from the art that will be on display, it’ll be worth returning to the garden. It is an amazing garden. In fact, Mirinda almost had us making an offer on the whole place.

It’s called Whitehanger and it nestles perfectly in a protected valley, on the edge of the South Downs. It is secluded and magical and everything perfect in the world. But, apart from my hysterical esoterics, there is also much to say about the garden in realistic terms. There are many different areas and spaces created. Also the way the garden isn’t upstaged by the Huf Haus (it took seven days to build) is beautiful.

Of great interest is the book which shows how the entire place has been created from pretty much nothing to glory in merely ten years. It shows you what can be achieved if you really, really want it.

I rather liked the different spaces, or rooms as Alan would say. My favourite was definitely the Woodland Walk, complete with Alf.

We spent a wonderful hour wandering the garden and even stopped for a cup of tea (we took a flask with us) on a bench. It was certainly a wonderful thing to do on the first day of summer.

But, brilliantly, we could take the girls! Of course they were perfectly well behaved though Freya was ridiculously interested in the chicken.

A couple of questions, apropos of nothing

How come if we’re such a rich country, we can paint a flag on a plane but can’t fund a decent police force?

How come we are so concerned with people dying of Covid-19 that we let others die of cancer?

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