Chelsea Fringe – London Garden No 7

Five Minutes Peace: a garden to sit in, a poem to read, and a prompt to write to … No 7. (Find out more about what this is all about here.)


lisa 2

What’s this, I hear you cry. This isn’t a garden, it’s an art gallery. Ahhhh… but what’s inside it? An exhibition especially for Chelsea Fringe

The Flowers exhibition  features work by Lisa Creagh and Hiroyuki Arakawa. And if Lisa’s name seems familiar to you – and not just because you know her beautiful work – it may be because I nabbed her to read a Jane Eyre extract at the weekend.

The two artists use flowers in very different ways in their work. Hiroyuki’s are structural, beautifully lit portraits of single blooms, while Lisa weaves hers into intricate patterns.


I want to concentrate on Lisa’s work because I’ve been reading up on her process for our ‘in conversation’ at the Gallery on Friday, 6.45-7.45, (places are free but limited, so do email if you’d like to come). It’s been a fascinating journey and not just because reading Artist Statements is a guilty little pleasure of mine. They throb with meaning, in a way I’ve never seen a Writer Statement doing. We tend to meander round the subject until we end up having to write whole books worth about it.

Anyway, back to Lisa because it IS genuinely interesting… On her website, Lisa writes that on a study tour round Giotto‘s work, she started to notice the patterns which ran alongside the frescos. And then, when she drew these out in her journal, she found the same pattern in places varying from The Book of Kells, the feet on a Buddha statue in the V&A, and even scientific drawings about separation of cells as a human egg is fertilized.


It was, however, when she was studying Dutch Flower painting that she got the idea of her award-winning series, The Instant Garden. The 17th century painters combination of botanical studies and invention allowed her a freedom to try new techniques, and also to think about what flowers meant for her. This ended with her unique combination of a photograph – a ‘trapping’ of a moment within linear time, and decorative arts – a different cyclical temporality including cycles of birth and death. It is a connection and disconnection between the hand-made element of crafts with a digital manipulation technique. I read up a little about this, and was interested to see that this painting below, by Rachel Ruysch, although each flower is technically correct, it is also part invention – the flowers would not have blossomed at the same time…


So it comes back to what it means to control nature, and this is central to any garden, surely? I really can’t wait for Friday night to talk about this more. Come and join us!

The poem I have chosen for Lisa is from an unknown Sufi source, and is based on a Persian carpet.

Here in this carpet lives an ever-lovely spring

Unscorched by Summer’s ardent flame

Safe too, from Autumn’s boisterous gales

The handsome wide border is the garden wall

Protecting, preserving the park within

For refuge and renewal, a magic space

For concourse, music and rejoicing

For contemplation’s lonely spell

Conversations grave, or lover’s shy disclosure

Here, sense and reason in concord blend

In harmony and proportion, in unity transcendent

The mind of God revealing

By our tangled errors so darkly hidden

The goal of all desire

The opener of all doors

The answer to all questions

The reason for all reasons

From snares of self set free

In tranquil beauty

The Beloved’s face at last you see

And there attain our journey’s end

Our life’s reward and final destiny

Refuge and fulfilment in his infinity.

And, following on a little from yesterday’s prompt about the plant as observer, I invite you to write about Flowers, either real or metaphorically, at the different stages of their lives. You can put them altogether in one poem even, rather like a Dutch flower painting.

One thought on “Chelsea Fringe – London Garden No 7

  1. Pingback: Chelsea Fringe – London Garden No 9 | Writer In The Garden

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