Monday, 18 August 2014

Centre for Alternative Technology, Machynlleth


A recent visit to this place left me very inspired. Although I was interested in the place scientific and sustainability point of view I came away from the place with ideas that were very much in keeping with the way my illustration work is developing. I have been intrigued by the concept of beauty recently and have just begun reading 'Timeless Beauty' John Lane which I purchased at the above place. At CAT my attention was drawn to the great amount of wood that was used in the construction of various buildings as well as for decorative architectural use, sculptures, fencing, garden features etc. It was a good reminder of just how versatile the material is for construction purposes from plant holders to high tech modern building design. I was also interested to see how plants were integrated into the environment either in the organic gardens, the poly tunnels, the forest garden or just wherever they happened to grow. Everything that was growing seemed healthy, lush and full of life and colour.

I found the place quite beautiful and I wondered what it was exactly that I was picking up that caught my attention. I like to see plants growing, yes, but somehow, when plants are growing in conjunction with other inanimate objects then the capacity to arouse a pleasurable response is greatly increased. For example: a wheel barrow and a pot of flowers look fine on their own, but place the flowers in the wheelbarrow and have them all tumbling over the edge creates a visible impression on a different level. It is almost like the feeling one gets when seeing something young and cute perhaps. I'm not quite sure what it is, but it may be the juxtaposition of the natural against something that is often man-made, but not necessarily so. We like to grow plants in pots, over arches, to walls, in old boots, in fancy containers... There is just something about plants that they can so easily create a visual statement when grown in particular ways. At CAT there was so much that caught my eye. There were the structural forms that had been created out of natural resources blending in with the natural growth of vegetables, fruit flowers and wild plants. Nature will always try and reclaim back what was hers. We cannot live in isolation from nature.

I could have spent many hours there drawing as I loved the wild lines, shapes and forms that had evolved in the place over the years. I took some photos to remind me of what I had seen and will feed some new concepts into my illustrations.

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