Autumnal art and Permaculture

Autumn is a time I wish would stretch on, especially the month of March when the late flowers are blooming and the leaves just starting to turn. In Autumn the changes in foliage bring warm and rich colours to the streets and gardens of my neighbourhood. The delicious fruits of Autumn also inspire my choice of colours in the artworks of this season – the olive green of feijoas, the dark crimson cherry guavas, and the deep purple of plums, grapes and passionfruit.

In March I made two small artworks with Sweet Peas and Purple Basil nature printed in autumn colours. For my Patreon subscribers I created a plum toned artwork with these fragrant plants, the tendrils of Sweet Peas curling through the artwork with prints from berries and the very aromatic purple Basil leaves and flowers. (details above). For both artworks I worked with plants that were sourced from Slow Blooms, a beautiful permaculture flower-picking garden in Matakana.

Whilst in Matakana I also attended a permaculture workshop at Rainbow Valley Farm about seed saving and gardening. This workshop with two very experienced tutors was a wonderful opportunity to learn more about working with nature to achieve thriving ecosystems. The permaculture approach can also be applied to culture and the arts, something I intend to explore in further depth. For some time now I have been concerned with the environmental effects of current art-making practices and attempting to find ways to make artworks that are less resource hungry and kinder to the environment. The permaculture perspective feels like a useful approach to help me work towards an art practice that works with nature, not against it.

In March I did one artwork that was much paler than the Sweet Pea paintings, and I posted this artwork online (detail pictured below) to celebrate Women’s Day this year. In this painting I nature printed two toned pink and orange Fiesta roses with Fennel Seed heads and sprigs of Carrot plants, an unlikely combination of humble garden plants with the rather glamorous roses. I like the idea of beautiful flowers growing in a vegetable garden, the two need not be kept seperate. Autumn is often a combination of all sorts of late flowers, seeds and the last of the summer vegetables in suburban gardens.

At Easter this year I made a foraged Autumn posy from a rural garden and fields as a gift to a friend. I love making posies with whatever foliage and flowers can be sourced locally, it is a far more sustainable and environmentally sensitive way of doing floristry. Of course I realise this way of working is only possible if the surrounds are rich with choices and plentiful with plants that can be picked. Applying permaculture principles to how I do floristry is an ongoing process, requiring changes to how things are made and what materials are used. It is a little like “unlearning” some of what I have previously been taught and seeking out those who are doing things differently.

For my home this Easter I created a vase arrangement with dramatic Hydrangeas, Crimson Snapdragons, a variety of foliage and Autumn berries. I started an artwork with some sprigs from the posy with Hydrangeas, continuing a series of artworks with blue flowers which I have been making over Summer.

To mark ANZAC Day this weekend I have made a large foraged Autumn wreath for the font door. It should slowly dry over the coming weeks and last into Winter. To make the wreath I used a grapevine base and twine to secure all the bunches of seasonal foliage. The technique that I used was demonstrated online by London florist Shane Connolly, who is committed to minimising the environmental impact of his work. Thinking back to this time last year when we spent ANZAC Day in lockdown, I am so thankful that so far this Autumn we have been able to see friends and family here in New Zealand.

April artwork for my Patreon subscribers will be nature printed from some of the leftover trimmings from the wreath making. Over the past few months I have been moving more of my online posting to my Patreon page, as I think it offers artists a fairer and more sustainable way to be paid for what they create and post online. For that reason, and so that I have more time to make art, I have decided to change my artist blog from bimonthly posts to a longer quarterly post each season. So my next artist blog, about my Winter artworks, will be posted in August. If you would like to receive a monthly downloadable artwork and more regular updates then please consider joining my community on Patreon, subscriptions start from US$1 per month. With support from patrons, more art can be made!

Wishing you a peaceful and fruitful season,

Aroha from Aotearoa, Celeste

Day in Autumn

BY RAINER MARIA RILKE

TRANSLATED BY MARY KINZIE

After the summer’s yield, Lord, it is time
to let your shadow lengthen on the sundials
and in the pastures let the rough winds fly.

As for the final fruits, coax them to roundness.
Direct on them two days of warmer light
to hale them golden toward their term, and harry
the last few drops of sweetness through the wine.

Whoever’s homeless now, will build no shelter;
who lives alone will live indefinitely so,
waking up to read a little, draft long letters,   
and, along the city’s avenues,
fitfully wander, when the wild leaves loosen.

Poem from https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/50937/day-in-autumn

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