A tree being looked at


  “To draw is to look, examining the structure

of appearances – a drawing of a tree shows not

a tree, but a tree being looked at.”

  John Berger

My approach to drawing is all about looking intently at my subject: the starting point for all my artwork is a meeting with a tree and a dialogue with it through mark-making.  So when I was invited to take part in this year’s Kelburn Garden Party it seemed like a great opportunity to start that dialogue with some of their amazing trees.


For the duration of the festival I plan to be working around the estate and Glen, creating a collection of drawings on the theme of ‘A tree being looked at’. If you’re at the Garden Party over the weekend, you can find me in the afternoons under the Weeping Larch in the area known as ‘The Gardens’ where I’ll also be doing short drawing workshops.


If you feel like a wander through the Neverending Glen, you can also discover and use the viewfinders I’ve placed along the way. These have quotes on them which relate to my ‘tree being looked at’ theme, and all are from books, artists and writers who have been inspiring and eye-opening for me and my work which I really wanted to share. I’ve hung the viewfinders so that they can be handled and used to frame your own views of the natural world – it’s all about looking!


Here are the quotes and their sources, with links…

“To draw a tree, to pay such close attention to every aspect of a tree is an act of reverence not only toward the tree, but also to our human connection to it. It gives us almost visionary moments of connectedness.”

Alan Lee from Drawing Projects, Mick Maslen & Jack Southern


“We see our world through the kind of questions we are able to ask about it, and by asking ‘more interesting questions’, we will discover more interesting ways of seeing it.”

Drawing Projects, Mick Maslen & Jack Southern


“One must always draw. Draw with the eyes when one cannot draw with a pencil.”



“Woods have come to look like the subconscious of the landscape”

“To enter a wood is to pass into a different world in which we ourselves are transformed. It is where you travel to find yourself, often, paradoxically, by getting lost.”

Wildwood, Roger Deakin


“I have learnt that what I have not drawn, I have never really seen, and that when I start to draw an ordinary thing, I realise how extraordinary it is.”

The Zen of Seeing: Seeing drawing as meditation, Frederick Franck


“Which bits of our aesthetic or emotional consciousness do rot-holes and calluses touch?”

“What deep-rooted associations do old trees conjure up? Are they some kind of portal to understanding the deep relationship between wildness and time?

Beechcombings, Richard Mabey


“It is motionless yet it oozes energy.”

Henry Moore at the British Museum, Henry Moore


“To walk through an ancient wood is to tread in the footsteps of the ghosts of those who once lived and worked in the medieval and early industrial countryside.

Ancient Woodland: History, Industry and Crafts, Ian D. Rotherham


“…trees are wildlife just as deer or primroses are wildlife.  Each species has its own agenda and its own interactions with human activities.”

Woodlands, Oliver Rackham


“I found the poems in the fields,
And only wrote them down.”

Sighing for Retirement’, John Clare


“Our habitual vision of things is not necessarily right: it is only one of an infinite number.”

The Living Mountain, Nan Shepherd


I’ll be posting more news and photos from the weekend on my facebook page whenever I can get a signal, so you can follow my progress there.


The Neverending Glen

This weekend I’m heading west to the wonderful Kelburn Garden Party where I’m doing a mini residency entitled ‘A tree being looked at’, involving drawing some of the amazing trees on the estate and running some drawing workshops for festival goers.

There will be another blog post soon with more details about my work there and you can find all the information on the artists and contributors to the Glen experience here>




Art at the Kelburn Garden Party

Kelburn Castle – it’s a Scottish castle like no other…


This summer I’ll be taking part in a new Art Trail for Kelburn’s famous Garden Party.  The trail is entitled ‘The Neverending Glen’ and will feature installations, structures, events, workshops and wanderings around the beautiful Kelburn Glen.


I’ve had two recent visits with curator Sophia Lindsay Burns, to plan my contribution to the Trail.


It’s a glorious location, overlooking the Firth of Clyde across to Arran – here are some of the other artists admiring the view.


I will be doing my best to capture on paper some of the riotous energy of this incredible tree, Kelburn’s famous Weeping Larch, which is noted in Donald Rodger’s Heritage Trees of Scotland as a kind of botanical freak due to its weeping branches which have taken root to become new trees themselves.


I’ll also be doing some short drawing workshops for festival goers and visitors to the park over the weekend, most likely underneath this very tree.

Kelburn01        Kelburn02

There are plenty of other impressive, interesting, intriguing and magical trees around the Glen itself which I’m keen to encourage visitors to look at with fresh wonder, so I’ll also be installing some viewfinders in strategic places to add to the inspiration – there’ll more on this in the next blog post.

While you’re waiting, here’s some amazing beech architecture for you…


The Kelburn Garden Party runs Friday 3rd – Sunday 5th July 2015.

The ‘Neverending Glen’ Art Trail opens on Thursday 2nd July – tickets and booking info for both here »