Letter from Belize no. 54

17th July 2016

Several things this year have inspired me to return to making, or rather designing and having made, some artifacts for the gardens which serve as a point of attraction for the Gateway Retreat.

You may remember photos of these structures.

Click on any of these photos for a larger view.

Over the last couple of years my energies have gone more into building up the dress-making or remodeling  of clothes ‘cottage industry’ as a fundraiser but a visit to a garden in Consejo, that trip to the Puerto Vallarta Botanic Gardens in Mexico in April and being lent a dvd of British land artist Andrew Goldsworthy have kick started me into being creative again. It feels so good.

So first of all I had young Robert, welder extraordinaire, to make this structure for the Om garden.

I am not sure what to call this one. Robert called it a ‘Bell Stand’ as it could have a bell hanging in that space but I have not found the perfect bell yet.

The gate, leading into the veggie garden, is a fulfillment of a long held desire to make a gate like the one I saw at the best public toilet in the world in the small unassuming town of  Kawakawa in north island New Zealand, designed by Austrian artist and architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser.

After some searching I tracked down the bits at a junk yard. It sports a cam shaft, a clutch plate, a spade handle, a rake, one of those things for unscrewing bolts on car wheels, a vehicle fan and and bottom right is from a compressor, an intricately designed part.

More recently I have been on a journey of thinking and creating after seeing the Goldsworthy documentary. For his beautiful pieces he uses only what he finds in the environment – rocks, stones, leaves, sand, mud, wood, bones, ice....... and then he leaves it to the elements. If it lasts, fantastic and if it blows away or melts or gets washed away or collapses also fantastic. I realized that here at the Retreat we have at our finger tips a whole art supplies store. Rich rich rich. Then when I was doing my daily trek around the Maya site in the forest I was struck by the idea of pathways. The dogs and I follow pretty much the same route every day with the dogs doing little forays to chase things but coming back to me at some point along the path, a path that has been trodden for 11 or 1200 years. The ants can be seen in long trails like six lane highways, weaving their way from somewhere to somewhere. Then think about the birds. They follow the same arcs, swooping for insects, foraging for grubs, pecking at seeds, back in the evening to their roosting places, back and forth building nests then feeding their young and then some of them joining the deep and wondrous call to migrate to warmer or cooler climes. Wild animals make tracks through the bush and we, the hunter/gatherers used to know and follow these tracks. Now we hunt and gather in the cities, beating pathways between home and work, home and school, home and the supermarkets, an endless, ever busy network of roads and railway tracks, taking to the air like the birds and we have added in a new pathway – that of wending our way to entertainment and holiday resorts.

So in our forest the most impressive pathway is that of the leaf cutting ants and I have made a piece as a token of respect to their hard work, perseverance, co-operation, organization and dedication.

I abandoned the idea of using leaves, both the ant and Goldsworthy’s chosen material, as I need something more long lasting and opted for copper ‘leaves’ cut from some old disused copper piping I managed to find in a hardware store.

So you can see I am on a roll and loving it. I hope you are all well and coping with whatever your country is throwing at you be it extreme weather or extreme political foolishness.

Thanks to Laura Klavitter, Jan Hulin and Jess Elwell for some of the photos.

My best wishes and love to you all

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