* Shelter for Celtic Nature
Project developed for Field of Vision during a three week residency at the Tremenheere – 11 acres of fields and wooded valley in the early stages of development as a subtropical garden and sculpture park – Penzance, Cornwall.
The post-modern condition hinges on the paradox of the search for ethnic and local identity in a global era. In a visual essay using plant life for text this work puns on roots, borders, transplants, potted histories and ‘home’ soil. In a cultivated locale that includes many imported species, ‘local’ plants, including what are often taken for weeds, are lovingly potted and labelled in bog-Cornish. Yet the market gardener’s radio is tuned to a ‘foreign’ station and there is an abandoned Chinese drinks carton. The shelter is a retreat from the world, disclaiming regression with its child’s table and chair and descent to the underworld of spriggans and knockers. Emerging from this sanctuary to face the wide multi-floral world of ethnic diversity we also have to wrestle with the notion of ‘Celtic nature’ itself, for current scholarship debates that there is such a thing as ‘Celticity’, seeing it as a nineteenth century Romantic Construction.
From Behind the classificatory schemes, issues of identity construction and diasporic dilemmas emerges, however, the beauty and tenacity of plant life itself, refusing classification in its desire to populate and go wild, transcending borders and the policing of identities. Anyone for local produce?
© Alan Bleakley 2002
Published in Art and Landscape 2002