The Hedgerow as Sanctuary – Inspiration for Art
Until recently hedgerows did not feature directly in my artworks but brought together together many of the things that inspire me. I have always seen the hedgerow as a sanctuary for wildlife.
Hedgerows provide shelter, navigational aids, homes and travel corridors and are a food source for many small mammals, birds and insects. I have a beautiful hedge in my garden that is home to many birds as well as a big fat rat that tries to steal their food. I guess even rats need a sanctuary (and better my hedge than my house!) and they play their part in the ecosystem.
I did not know until I was researching for my article for the British Sundial Society (see earlier post) that in a local environment birds use solar clues such as shadows cast by hedges for orientation as this can show the direction of the sun and the time of day. Bats also use hedges for navigation at night.
Hedgerows are also important for capturing carbon from the air and helping the current climate crisis.
But despite all these positives, hedgerows are not as prolific as they once were and are often not managed properly. This is partly due to changes in farming practices.
Hedges comprise of a number of different plant species and recently I have been making cyanotypes using blossom branches from blackthorn and willow. Some of these cyanotypes were made later in the day when the sun was lower in the sky and this has added a really interesting shadow effect to the resultant images – showing them as the bird sees them for navigation maybe?