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Ordinary Landscapes Oxfordshire 2012

O3 Gallery, Oxford

Ordinary Landscapes refers to my interest in botany and habitat and how habitat is affected by geology and geography and human intervention.

This year I set myself a task to visit as many of the wildlife reserves owned or managed by Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire Wildlife Trust as I could. The plan was to spend time and to take note of the character of a variety of quite ordinary ‘landscapes’ but which are, perhaps , not as common to us now as they have been. ‘Meadows and pastures, woods and thickets’ are the habitat of Listera Ovata, the Common Twayblade, described by John Ray in 1724 that they can be ‘so abundant as to become quite a nuisance’ (Webster)…. But the reality of finding suitable habitats such as these today, outside of protected land is not as likely.

Twayblade Sketchbook, mixed media print techniques

My ‘plan’ evolved into a rediscovery of some of the indigenous British orchid species I had found in the 1970s through searching for the habitat first; this time suitable habitat seemed only to be available in the reserves. Knowing when and where to look, they were easy to find, but no less a delight.

This exhibition presents some of my findings as ‘sketchbook’ pieces including snippets of research, photographs and sketches made on site. They hope to convey a sense of the fragility of the habitat and hence the vulnerability of many of these plants despite their sturdiness in appearance.

Many ‘ordinary landscapes’ are now, perhaps, not as common as they once; the reality of finding suitable habitats for indigenous orchids outside protected land is unlikely. Searching the reserves I found the Marsh Helleborine, ‘Common on chalky soils and in watery places’.

 

‘in watery places’ (Marsh Helleborine and Twayblade) mixed media print techniques

Common Spotted Orchid with Forester Moth and Fragrant Orchid, mixed media 250mm x 450mm