Reminiscing last night, I was reminded of this exhibition I was involved with a number of years ago, upstairs at the Ancient House in Ipswich. My piece was called The Land of the Dead. It was about death, sleep and memory, and was the result of a summer scavenging lavender, rosemary and feathers…


land of the dead


I watched from the train window as a blue tit flitted about in an elder tree. There were buttercups in the pastures and oxeye daisies on the banks.

They would paint the houses with oxblood and elderberries. Frothy May. Hawthorn. Cow parsley. Not much but something, at least. Forget-me-nots in the verges and woods.

There were dark indigo violets in the grass, on the field’s edge. Pale blossom scattering, pastures dotted with yellow. How to go forward from here? Or even sideways? Everything was green. Two deer in a field – one raised its horned head as the train rushed past.

Tap tap tap, went the man on his laptop. Meanwhile I got my scarf tangled up in my headphone cord, spilled coffee down the side of the cardboard cup, had to lick my own fingers. I tugged at things, frustrated – why wouldn’t they come free? My notebook stuck in my bag, the zip only opened part-way. Everything falls down to the bottom, always – that’s not a pen, that’s a pencil. The special Ipswich Choral Society pencil they gave me that Saturday. Proudly singing since 1824. It was sharpened to a point, and it poked at me, leaving a graphite mark on my finger.

The pale trunks of trees in a line, like fishbones against the faint greenish spread of spring. The way things grow and creep, forking here and there, sending out questing shoots – it is a quiet truth  covering the land – you are not in control here, no matter what you do, and there is no grand plan. No order but disorder. We act according to our natures; nothing more or less. There is a relief in it – a stepping down from responsibility. Things will happen, or they will not. Either way, it is enough.

It was so green. Under the road bridge, like a shady cloister. A cathedral.


Mist and sun. The ploughed field shrouded in light. A tree stump rising, dark shapes. I tried not to allow sadness to leak up through the cracks.

A bird on the river that sounded like a creaking bicycle.

Full of the anticipation of October; the cool, sharp golden days. But no focus.

The light washing over me, calm and warm. Flocks of birds in the blue sky; dark flecks ready to head off somewhere.

Bright, clear and sharp. Sun in my eyes.

A rainbow. Beneath it, a dead tree, lit up pale. Crows blooming in its branches.

Outside, a pale world of orange and green and brown, blanketed in grey. It was magnificent. One day I would stop altogether and creepers would grow over me, catching at me and twining about my legs. Shrouded in ivy like a tombstone, the mist wrapping around my neck like a scarf.

The way the rubbish collects on the river path. Dregs. A cormorant diving down, arse over tit… so to speak.

Dark earth and dark water. The sky was a grey canvas.

A morning of surprising light and reflected clouds.

The sun came out as I stepped onto the river path, and then sudden heavy rain, falling from a blue sky. A cold wind.

The dry gold of summer had mellowed into something softer – burnished into copper and bronze. Warm and glowing, red berries like jewels. When the autumn sun shines, it welcomes you in.

In the waiting room, an old lady in shades of pink was greeted by another in shades of turquoise.

Constant drizzle and rain on the day after, and the trains were delayed. The cold and damp of station platforms leached into me through my boots. I was out of words.

Dark clouds one morning, but light creeping in through the mist on the horizon. Trees outlined against its paleness. Ground-mist lying on the fields as soft as fleece.

Even the pen was dry and cold, scraping over the page. We were all frozen solid. I said, I hope the train freezes.