Saturday, May 9, 2009


I did promise that I would be posting NEW images of NEW habitats and recent site visits, so yes I apologize for those of you who had returned with great expectations ,to find me prattling on AGAIN !

BUT and ( never start a sentence with these two words) ,... I felt compelled to share these recent thoughts.

My father passed away a few years ago on 9/11 2005 . A keen gardener, an incessant tinkerer and very committed to his community. Which was not as I was growing up always easy to contend with . What he spent his life doing in the real world was less of a consequence to me as were these activities that he engaged in, in the evenings and at week ends .

Gardening was I think central to our relationship . He couldn't relate to my early dabblings in art making as he was I think disappointed that I hadn't pursued a more musical creative outlet, BUT believe me there is only so much George Shearing you can stand as a truculent youth living in the punk era of the UK !! So there was growing stuff and Dad 's passion was the VEG garden. Here we could both engage in a world that was magical and always full of surprises. And you got to eat what you grew !! "Simon , look at these beans , how green how tender and we're still picking them.We'll have to start freezing some soon ?" Fathers and sons go to soccer games ..Dad and I part-steamed beans and devised ways of economic bagging for maximum use of space in the freezer ! Here we were both teacher and student , he had his favourite veggies and I soon discovered new varieties and began planting "spaghetti" squash and swiss chard.

And how does this relate to whats been going on of late ? Well , simply put you have the whole concept of the shed and it's use of a creative / magical space and with the recent project starting in Philly with the shed/studio at the center of a series of different gardens .

My Dad introduced me to the book by Mel Bartholomew "Square Foot Gardening" .Which , I suspect and this is what Dad liked ,was that Mel was an engineer by training and I think this appealed to Dad's systems approach to certain matters, (tho' he tended to be more emotional about his response to certain things than he cared to sometimes show...and he had his moments later in his life,) .... I digress. This concept which was then a new thinking in veg gardens, now influences the small gardens soon to take shape in Philly.

Recently with all the various meetings to gain permission and agreements with a variety of groups, I have felt my Dad beaming some where , maybe chuckling as I plow into evening meetings of village Boards , listen to business groups try to reach consolidation on events and approach and my sitting sometimes quietly thinking ,....."Haven't I been here before ?"

Simply put , this is community and now a return to that magical world of gardening with all the awe inspiring varieties and processes to engage in . Now put in an ART context ,...

I came across a wonderful world in high school , the Center for Alternative Technology in Mid Wales . I spent some time visiting this place , discovering a variety of inventions that were alternate to the standard norm. I didn't realize it at the time but I was equally drawn to these as an emerging artist, visually as well as for their obvious engineered purpose. It appears that many past worlds and interests have found placement with this project and as I look forward to the new opportunities for it to grow and flourish , my past has had a new light and meaning cast upon it and a new understanding is growing with regard to that man that was my father , John .

In mid life you stand holding the thread of a future to come and the thread of things past , you hope that you have time to hold this thread and gain insight not only into your own world but other worlds that surrround and influence us, every day. At this juncture you can become aware of an altered timeline which exists in a non linear, dimensional reality .

Art has this capability and this is what draws me to it every day. Sometimes it connects so many things which makes it a meaningful, real activity and absolutely relevant on its own merits. This is one recent experience that words only begin to express ,..... best SD

1 comment:

Alex said...


Sorry about leaving a comment here but can't find a contact email for you.

I run a blog called Shedworking ( which is devoted to the lifestyles of people who work from garden offices or similar shedlike atmospheres. In June next year Frances Lincoln publishers will be bringing out my book Shedworking: The alternative workplace revolution and I wonder if it might be possible to include a photo or two of the Habitat for Artists project in the book? Although I am based in the UK, both the blog and the book take an international approach to the subject and I know readers would be very interested to see and read about your structure (I've covered you before on the blog at James Westwater will also be in the book (both his Plywood Chateau and own garden office) - he said to say hi.

If you would like to be included in the book - and I really hope you will - please do email me photos to or if you would like to know more about the book (or me, or the blog), please do let me know.



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