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ABCD: June 2020

June 7, 2020

Twelve out of fourteen members of Artists’ Book Club (Dove) met on Zoom yesterday. Thanks to Thalia for hosting the meeting. “We were like pages of a sort of 3D book … our faces in our rooms each a page with our stories.” – Kate.

There was much talk of gardening, watering, growing fruit and veg, noticing invertebrates, birds, grasses and trees. We seem to be turning into a nature-study club. Some of us had worked on books, and some of us had books to recommend. There was sadness, rage, playfulness and some rather dark humour.

Thalia, inspired by World Bee Day, is working on a herbal for bee health. Here are some of her sketches and photos.

Bron recommended Braiding SweetgrassIndigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer. She has been making mugs and burnished pots, mourning an apple tree sucked dry by woolly aphids, watering the garden and the newly-planted trees, and identifying grasses in the meadow. She is proud of her lettuces!

Judith spent a week binge-watching the Hay festival online. She too has been busy in the garden.

Judy recommended The Overstory by Richard Powers. She has made a hexaflexagon and labelled its surfaces, with a view to using this structure in her Dante calligraphy project. She has taken a Zoom workshop with Simon Soncino, and is looking forward to the follow-up meeting,

Jane recommended The Anarchy by William Dalrymple. She has been looking at old sketches and photos of the sea wall at Lyme Regis, and recreating the colours with indigo and rust dyes. Oh, and her bee-hotel is now fully occupied.

I (Ama) recommended Educated by Tara Westover. I stayed up till 3am to finish reading it. And spent most of the next day watching interviews and Q&A sessions on Youtube.
While cutting back a willow I found a branch that I used as a loom to weave a mask. I think its function is to protect not from the virus but from the sadness. I’ve done some more dyeing of rag-paper with red onions skins and red cabbage. Better results this time, accidental landscapes. Here are a couple of them. And some photos of my garden. The lettuces are Barba dei Fratri from seeds Clare sent me. The tomato seeds were squeezed from a mouldy tomato on its way to the compost bucket. The gorgeous roses come throuth the fence from next door. We now have five old crash-helmets converted into hanging gardens. They used to be on the front of the house and were often a talking-point for passers-by, but I no longer feel safe leaning out of windows to water them. I am proud of my chick-peas (last photo).

Caroline’s pond is home to a family of feisty moorhens. She is making pages for a book of family photos and anecdotes. She recommended Family Echo for creating a family tree, and  Mixam for reasonably priced printing. She also told us about the Great British Hedgerow Survey. It sounds a truly worthwhile project.

Clare recommended A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings by Helen Jukes.  “There’s a lot about honeybees, but it also reads as a story, an account of her first year as a bee keeper, and how that alters how she experiences things.  Beautifully written.”

Here are some photos of Clare’s garden and her hedgerow sketchbook.

Carol has made a book of sketches of her walks, coloured on one side and monochrome on the other,

and a book of monoprints of the marina area of Portishead. If you unfocused your eyes, she said, you could imagine it was Barcelona.

And a photo from Carol’s garden:

Carol 6

Janine has made a family of boxes from scraps of silk and velvet. “The smaller they are, the harder it is.” Someone pointed out that they have a hairstyle very similar to mine and Clare’s!

Kate showed us a recent commission – a painting of a friend’s grand-daughters in Australia.


Pat has been dyeing wool with lichen and other vegetable dyes and handspinning it, and has started her hedgerow-themed weaving, inspired by Anni Albers and Alice Fox. It looked wonderful on Zoom but unfortunately I have no photos to show you.

Pauline was unable to join the meeting, but she has sent a photo of this lovely mokuhanga print, which to me looks like an illustration to the Rime of the Ancient Mariner.


Next meeting: Saturday 4th July.

June Dove-droppings

I spent the week in Hay
me and William Dalrymple
feet in different worlds

moths we have seen
waiting for inspiration
waiting for ever

first aid for bees
they switched off her life support
this week it’s been family

there’s massive evil going on
and I study the grasses
oh god I’ve retired

I lit a fire
it was like putting down a pet
I cried

drawing is the best way of looking
stag-beetles in the woodpile
tiny blocks of writing

I feel like a slug
no backbone no incentive
indigo and rust

it’s wrong, so wrong
a round-the-clock chick watch
which is handy if you’re thinking of ending it all

an invasion of moorhens
cinnabar moths
and family history

scattered plastic
and the government has driven me bonkers
I wrote to my MP

skippers on the bird’s-foot trefoil
swimming in the brook
then I got a bat-detector

I have lettuce envy
I can only worry
it keeps me happy

codes and puzzles
a take-away coffee
the joy of small things

ask the botanist
it looks like a brome
the other is a giant fescue

watering flowering buzzing
I could fill it with treasure
wishes and prayers

Ama in mask


3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 8, 2020 8:39 am

    I love your mask Ama

  2. June 8, 2020 9:22 pm

    Thank you! I love your pots.


  1. Poetry Blog Digest 2020, Week 23 – Via Negativa

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