A garden contemplation suits
And may instruction yield
Sweeter than all the flow’rs and fruits
With which the spot is filled.
John Newton’s hymn of 1779
Historical portraits of the Garden of Eden show an idyllic and pristine landscape unspoilt by man. Walking in the countryside today, I’m often confronted by plastic packaging discarded and allowed to decompose in trees and hedgerows. Our modern lives have left their imprint.
My work seeks to portray a contemporary Garden of Eden. On my travels I have found plastic debris washed up along riverbanks and shorelines from Attenborough Nature Reserve to the Isle of Mull. At first sight these blots on the landscape appeared to be flowers on the ground.
I captured these scenes in a series of photographs, which I have used in ‘Eden in the Age of Plastic’ collaged with images of flowers from my garden. Ancient descriptions of the Garden of Eden suggest that it is orientated at the centre of the Earth. The photographs allude to the four corners of the world and leave a central area for the garden. The garden has been ‘tended’ with colour and subtle embroidery and becomes a space for ‘contemplation and instruction’.