After a week of errands and drawing it's time to
catch up in the studio. Those runner bean pods that I sketched on
the 27th January have been sitting on
my plan chest in a box ever since.
Runners, broad and dwarf French: I put them in separate envelopes
ready for planting sometime soon.
There's only one junk mail reply-paid envelope in the recycling
bin so I pick up a couple of envelopes that are lying around the
studio. The discarded bean pods go for recycling on our compost
I wouldn't be without e-mail but letters are different: they're
like bean pods. You open them and there's some thought, some
emotion, some idea that a friend has taken the trouble to write
to you with; encapsulated, like the bean, with its embryonic shoot
and root curled up inside, just waiting to find some fertile ground
where, perhaps, it can grow.
The broad bean envelope was from my friends Jacqui and David and contained
a letter about environmental threats to the Erith Marshes near Bexley,
South London, and to the Iberian cork oak forests.
Black, who is a veteran of several environmental campaigns, notably
the so-far successful one to protect Oxleas Woodlands SSSI, admits to
'campaigners burn out'. I know the feeling, but one of the ways we can
help protect the cork oak forests is, so he tells me, to buy wine with
a real cork in the bottle, rather than with a plastic stopper or a screw-top.
Now, that's one campaign that I'll never suffer 'burn out' from.
I've know Jacqui Atkinson since she and I were students
in the Illustration Department at the Royal College of Art in the early
1970s. She and David now live most of time on a campsite on a wild coast
somewhere in Portugal.
'I'm enclosing my 'brainstorm' about “montados”,' she writes
(detail, one sixth of the whole thing, above right), 'This
was executed outdoors, at the campsite, with plenty of heavy stones
to stop the paper blowing away - and a couple of dictionaries. My knowledge
of montados is fairly limited but we have seen these sort of places
first hand and read about them in the Portuguese press.'
Richard Bell, email@example.com