— Ecogeographer

Alexis Rockman rocks.
My dad would have treasured his round painting.
Mark Dion, how you would like his curiosities,
Would your mum have?
Your cabinet spoke.

Pam Longobardi, swimmer of caves, he would have thought you exotic,
You are an archaeological goddess.
Andy Hughes, you presented his room.
You read her favourite, Robert Frost.
The room was silent. I think?

Do you now Martin Parr? is chimed,
The Snow Queen glides past.
Knowingly a dog stares us out,
It is a sort of fairy tale.
On the dog mush, I realise,
They needed a sustainable product designer.
Would Howard agree?
We land in a glacier.

I picture the cockpit for him.
I take a GPS grab to show 500ft.
How to describe the blue ice?
Skating on a turquoise lake.
We see Turnagain in elevation and aerial.

Seattle mountains replace the Anchorage view -
I let the battery go flat, too many photographs of cups.
The map is followed in 3D, on all 3 chairs, for hours.
We land.
The suitcase is replaced.
Dad has gone.
(Jennifer Wagner-Lawlor, what would you say about the plasticity of such a brain?)
My legs go hard. Sheets of ice really go past.

My sister and I sit either side of his slippers,
Everything seems sacred she says, I haven’t touched it.
Our eyes lift from the slippers to the box collection,
To the Valentine’s envelope ready,
To the candle that quietly smokes.

I drift to his rooms of ships and mermaids.
My eyes spill over his table,
I straighten a collection of silver.
I collect printed photographs.
In the past, I’m posted in the vestry window.

I’m stood on a box in the bell tower.
(He started the bell ringing again, George’s daughter just reminded mum.)
My sister and I listen to his singing voice past the rude screen,
She studies his performance.
I try and gain confidence in Alto.

I’m walked from Mullion to Kynance (something my sister and I have continued to do).
Paul Foot, Peter Long – they walk – other vicar’s names feature thereafter, and priests, monks, old ladies,
they gather.
As do Easter egg hoards,
Youth clubs,
Garden Fetes on croquet lawns.
I dress as a fox, my sister as a white rabbit.
The next year I make an Indian headdress from the goose feathers.

A Dragon fly garden,
A Tortoise garden.
We loose a roost of Guinea Fowl,
We eat supers of honey.
We are not allowed a tree house.
We climb out the small window in secret protest.
The victorian greenhouse holds the weight,
The tropical fish and banana tree look up.

I watch him paint. I listen to him tap on the typewriter.
We read his poems as requested.
We insert a celtic cross from deviant art.
Different denominations are present.
And different friends, many close.
You lay like a saint. We all see you.
We think of your hymn.
You have gone.

His hats dangle around, his clocks tick again.
The radio is back on.
The carpet pile moves,
I make porridge for one.
We miss the phone.
We miss the colour.
We miss hiding the bananas.
I read his books.

I notice the roundness,
The lack of plastic. I think, trad dancing.
I search the owls, the spiders, the big birds,
The hat pins, the fob watches, the socks,
The big boom.

The Irish travelling priest, The Snake Padre,
Dad, The King.
Old Man Yellow Beard,
Grando, Uncle Donald,
You lay like a saint.
We all see you.
We think of the hymn you wrote.
You have gone.

You stood me on a rock in Goonhilly,
Whilst looking for snakes.
A stare at that space in my daydreams.
Your smell is faint now.
You have a necklace of colour around your new neck. Your creativity still spills,
We have a new garden to tend. We feel love. We must not be lost.
You celebrated every occasion. We must.
But my pages of Chroma, still lands on pages of shadow.

Feb 2014-2015,

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Yesterday I photographed Autumn. Today I am reflecting on Summer. It’s been bitter sweet. Aug 1st was held without my dad. He died hours before Valentine’s Day this year. He had a summery beard, yellow and ginger streaks – excellent grey as he grew old. His death has continued to make me think about decomposing, forests, the unseen. Things I was in part thinking about already. Perhaps my sick sense knew what was coming.

This Summer sunshine adorned our peninsula and dried the bones of everything including the frames of old cottages. Early in the summer heat, I danced with Sam Bleakly to African beats, did dance hall by a giant glitter ball and surfed in style with Andy Hughes (an injury’s held me back). I felt better. In late summer, I was lifted completely into my living body as I watched Sascha Goetzel for the first time. Full embodiment. The orchestra brought to life two Queen of Sheba treats. Oh wow, how we were processed into the avenue of a proms highlight.

Dominica williamson - Hawthorn at Perranporth
Dominica Williamson - Sorrel at Perranproth

Dominica Williamson - Willow, Perranporth
Dominica Williamson - Marram Grass at Perranporth

Dominica Willamson - Bramble, Perranporth
Dominica Williamson - Willow and Hawthorn, Perranporth

Now as I reach and pick the last blackberries (more crumble) and my boyfriend harvests seaweed for pizza, I think about the reaching, the gathering, the walking down the wild avenues with stained hands. I feel back in my body but connected to the beneath and wondering like never before. The leaves are dropping and starting to be tread into the mudden ground. Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Sloe and more line the track but I can bounce back on to Marram grass and catch the Autumn sun. The rays are fainter though and this week I realise it is time to concentrate on the Archaelogical in depth. I am re-entering a phenomenological framework, how apt given the year. I am walking in part within an archaeologist’s framework. Last time I walked with a programer. This time I have Goetzel, summer surf and Jamaican beats as well as the landscape at my side.

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A snippet of work

I’ve been designing many things for the Giant’s Quoit project such as the website, leaflets, posters and educational workshops and resources. It’s an exemplar community project and an important archaeological site – the first dig under a quoit for a long time.

This Autumn I am busy designing the App, the book, the walks brochure (brilliantly researched by Ramblers) and I am developing the Oral History side things, which is helping to broaden the outreach. Below is a snippet of the design work.

Giant's Quoit poster design by Dominica Williamson
Poster design for the Giant’s Quoit

Education flyer by Dominica Williamson
Education week and flyer designed for the Giant’s Quoit

Educational fun resources by Dominica Williamson
One of the educational resources I created for the Giant’s Quoit

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Sker Point by Dominica Williamson
‘Sker Bay’; mixed media by Dominica Williamson

In Gyre: The Plastic Ocean
Booth Clibborn Editions, London
Book and exhibition catalogue, 2014
Illustrations for text/essay titled ‘Embedded’
By Dominica Williamson

I went to Alaska this year. It was to see the launch of Gyre: The Plastic Ocean and to take my mum on a flight over glaciers for her 70th. A once in a life time event organised by my sister and boyfriend. I did some illustrations for the catalogue and so even more, mum loved flying into the snow!

Get the book NOW to learn more about the effect of plastic in our oceans.
You can buy it from places like Waterstones.

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Mole by Dominica Williamson
A Mole found in Treslothan Woods, Troon, Cornwall, whilst on an archaeological walk.
It’s death has made me reflect on the year. It’s been a progressive, creative one, but also one full of strange sadness’. Drawing it has helped – an industrious digger but so soft and it has such fantastic claws and pads, and a beautiful mouth with shapely whiskers.
Mole at a Distance by Dominica Williamson

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Thinking back

Trees by the surf, Portugal
Sandy explorations, South of Lisbon, Portugal by Dominica Williamson
Entering the life of Lisbon, Portugal by Dominica Williamson
A find, snake skin by the beach & raw colour in Sintra, Portugal by Dominica Williamson
Lisbon, travel & tiles, Portugal
Yellow, gold & cake in Cintra, Portugal by Dominica Williamson
Burgandy, yellow, blue in Portugal
South of Lisbon, the best cake of all, Portugal, by Dominica Williamson

The trip of 2012. It was a flight. There was some surf. I photographed instead of sketching.

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This time last year I was working
on the below illustration
for a cancer theme and in memory
of my granny Whisker.

Colchicum Autumnale by Dominica Williamson
Colchicum autumnale finished
section by Dominica Williamson

This year I am in the midst of creating my first very own studio and so painting is on hold.
However, I’ve just finished a glass commission and about to take on another. I can work without a studio at present because I am working with people who cut glass connected to computers – so from your file. I’ve worked with stain glass and lead in the past and a bit of acid but this is etching with machines. Benjamin eat your heart out – it’s my botanical work becoming mechanised.

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There’s been new interest in the project theirwork recently as well as my general practice.
Here’s a couple of publications about theirwork and a blog post written by Emmet – co-developer. (I am up-dating the theirwork blog next month so I will make a new link to it later.)

Chapter in Rethinking Maps:
New Frontiers in Cartographic Theory by Routledge
editor Martin Dodge (I will put up the intro to the book sometime; the rest of the chapters you have to get from the book in print, which will be in all good libraries with a geography section.)

Article in Fourth Door Review:
This is available in print too.
Ask me if you can’t get hold of it and I will point you.

Emmet Connolly’s blog post about the publications at time of sign off!

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A peltate glandular trichome

A forest of glandular and non-glandular hairs (trichomes) cover the catmint leaves that I am painting. I am painting the glandular hairs in detail for the Eden Project Florilegium archive so that in the future the work can be used to educate children about why cats love this plant and why it is of ethnobotanical importance to humans.

The hair that is important to cats and humans is the peltate glandular trichome – the small mushroom shaped object. It looks like a satellite station under the microscope – it is quite yellow compared to the long horn like hairs. This is because the trichome is turgid – there is content, it has its cellular contents intact (slime, water, and protein)… When cats rub against the plant, terpene, a chemical mixture gets released and sends them into heaven. (More details about this later.)

These glandular trichomes are microscopic and so I needed the botanist Dr Alistair Griffiths to help me find them. The above image he took summarizes our findings. The non-glandular hairs are rather easier to find and I’ve been looking at these at various different magnification levels whilst drawing, painting and taking snapshots of them.

Non-glandular hairs of catmint
Snapshot of non-glandular catmint trichomes

As I enter into the winter, I will get into the intricacies of painting this whole plant. I will be working with dusty green and purple mixes of paint (my specimen has purple flowers). I will post some water colour details in the future.

Alistair Griffiths is Horticultural Science Curator at the Eden Project

We used the below as our main reference:
Catnip, Nepeta cataria, a Morphological Comparison of Mutant and Wild Type Specimens to Gain an Ethnobotanical Perspective
Scott Herron
Department of Biological Sciences, Ferris State University, 820 Campus Dr. ASC 2012, Big Rapids, MI 49307-2225; herrons@ferris.edu

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Valentine Gilbert and GeorgePete Postlethwaite is sending an arrow through my heart. Romeo and Juliet, The Age of Stupid and Brassed off, in that order, keep running round my head. Not the New Year I had expected. To me it feels a slow year to get started. It’s been a cold white winter with some snow and an ever present frost that’s been drilling down to my herbs. My New Year plan was to set in some kind of ‘freeze’, my own personal green audit framework. I’ve been languishing instead. Not only because of the loss of Pete Postlethwaite on our theatre and TV platforms, but I’ve also been mourning the loss of our new gander on the garden stage. Only three, he was found dead one morning by my mum. A heart attack, maybe a weak heart because he was a runt. He was our first all white gander and had a high pitch gorgeous chime of a call (he was called Sarah!) I recorded the loss of the grey gander here.

I’ve been observing a white and pink plant this winter. The white of plants is a chalky white says Derek Jarmen*, and chalky white is great as it’s a warm white and so plants even if white, warm you… My granny Whisker (yes, that’s her real name) died of leukaemia, and Colchicum autumnale, Autumn Crocus is linked to some treatment associated with this disease, and so I choose to observe and paint it. It’s dedicated to her; she fired my imagination with poetry, gardens she themed for each one of my family, and unseen fairies that left presents on each of the Irish east coast sea shelled mornings.

On January 18, 2008, the Botanic Gardens Conservation International (representing botanic gardens in 120 countries) stated that “400 medicinal plants are at risk of extinction, from over-collection and deforestation, threatening the discovery of future cures for disease”. These included yew trees (the bark is used for cancer drugs, paclitaxel); Hoodia (from Namibia, source of weight loss drugs); half of Magnolia species (used as Chinese medicine for 5,000 years to fight cancer, dementia and heart disease); and Autumn Crocus (for gout).
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, March 2001

Leukaemia has been successfully treated with Autumn Crocus, and the plant has also been used with some success to treat Bechet’s syndrome, a chronic disease marked by recurring ulcers and leukaemia.
From Plants For a Future

Observational work
Colchicum autumnale observational work (and further above, Gilbert & George Gorse Hearts by Dominica Williamson)

As I came into February, I started studying the leaves of this plant. Appropriately, they have a sheen and stand strong. Valentine’s day approached at this time, and so Romeo and Juliet came back, swimming through my head, Baz Luhrmann’s fast flying cuts swirling round, Pete’s wisdom was in front of me again. Arr, the Age of Stupid, yes, he would want me to stop languishing and get an audit framework started and to keep observing more and more. And my boyfriend must have felt that too, cos here’s a washed up badger brush from the tideline, which saved him £40 and answered my prayers about not buying badger but wanting quality and a girl’s version. And so the audit starts with a cold white winter behind me, but a warm white soul and a new green way to shave.

Badger shaving brush
My boyfriend found, painted and photographed the brush

*Nearly all white flowers are yellowish white and the comparatively few that are bluish white such examples as Omphalodes linifolia are of a texture so different from snow that one cannot compare them at all – I should say that most white flowers are near the colour of chalk; for although the words chalky white have been used in a rather contemptuous way, the colour is really a beautiful warm white, but by no means an intense white.

Derek Jarman, Chroma, p16

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