Thursday, 21 July 2011

Up To Date

Spurred on by the last blog entry and the fact that i have time on my hands at the moment, i spent a few hours the other day sorting out all my collected dandelion leaf specimens and putting them into the Dandelion Diary. It works out that i hadn't updated it since last June (2010) so there were about 100 to catalogue and archive.

The diary is still not quite up to date as the most recently collected specimens are still being pressed in books.

Friday, 15 July 2011


I've neglected to up date the Dandelion Diary recently. However, i still collect dandelion leaves from everywhere i visit. The consequence of this is a large backlog of pressed leaves in books under my desk ready to be transferred to the diary and also into my archive of specimens...

I have to admit the longer it goes that i'm not updating my records, the more i'm putting it off.

Thursday, 30 June 2011


Last night was the gathering at Harvey Nichols in Leeds for the work i have there on the restaurant windows.

There were summer cocktails and lovely canapes and beautiful little snacks etc for the guests. It was a bright sunny night so the vinyls glowed in the light. And, so the customers weren't blinded by the brightness the blinds were lowered. The vinyls then created a lovely soft outline onto the blinds with their shadows (image above).

What a fun night!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Week Print

Above is another screen print recently finished:

It's a week of collected dandelion leaves gathered from around the Lancaster University campus (during my residency there last month). Then printed onto paper used in a machine to record humidity in buildings.

The number of prints in the edition is 5

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Red Dandelion Prints

Also on show at Harvey Nichols in Leeds I have some screen prints - red outlines of dandelion leaves overlapped many, many times.

Along with the red screen prints I have some Polaroids and also a series of Japanese dandelion screen prints on Japanese newspaper collected while on my trip last year.

Harvey Nichols

A while ago I was asked to design some vinyls for the windows at Harvey Nichols in Leeds for their restaurant.

I went over a couple of weeks ago to see the finished designs and also to hang some framed works to accompany the window patterns.

The windows are now decorated with the overlapping outlines of dandelion leaves that i've collected from UK, Japan, Canada, Germany, France etc...
The work will be up for a couple of months at Harvey Nichols, Victoria Quarter, Leeds.

Sunday, 22 May 2011


I know a poet called Mark Ward.
We have worked together in the past and i asked if he might consider writing something about dandelions when i saw him during the Curate the Campus project last week (he's studying for an MA in creative writing at the uni). I was really chuffed when he said yes and am delighted with the result:

Prolific: profligate,

they emulate the stars in their boldness

and intensity.

Unsung by poets, persecuted by gardeners,

the wrong type of flower

they stand defiant on the lawns and pathways

Outcasts, banished to the edgelands of our

towns and cities; flourishing on the sidings

and embankments: the mean backstreets

and the decaying monoliths of our industrial past.

Bouquets for the homeless.
In time the brash garish flowers transform
into opaque globular seed heads: light, delicate
they await the breeze to stir.
Dandelion clocks.
Pluck one; take a breath and blow.

Count the hours – spread the joy.
Come Spring there’ll be another star-burst on the lawn.

Mark Ward, 2011

Saturday, 21 May 2011

CTC Day 8 - Final day

The final day on my residency proved to be another successful day. I finished my concertina book of drawn dandelion leaves collected around the site (there's a total of 72 drawings in the book) and I also met with Eduardo Medina, a PhD student studying biological sciences: we had a really fascinating conversation about the British ecosystem assessment and lots to do with habitats and the value of land.

I then had a great meeting with Dr Rebecca Ellis a lecturer at the Lancaster Environment Centre whose background is in Social Anthropology - Emily Adams introduced us as she thought we would have a lot in common. A really interesting conversation which i'm still thinking about.

What a great few days - absolutely packed with things to think about from conversations and chance encounters. I loved this project! It will continue further into the future, i know it.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

CTC Day 7 - Encounter

The weather wasn't great yesterday - still grey and rainy most of the day. Aarrrh - the British summer is here.

I went to find the green roof on top of the Info Lab building at the far end of the campus. In the wind and rain me and Richard went out onto the deck outside the cafe to what can only be described as a dishevelled, weedy patch of yellowing plant life - pretty miserable looking. I was happy to see that some of the healthiest looking plants on the roof were dandelions - popping up where they shouldn't be. I collected a couple of leaf specimens and we left.

I had lunch with Mark Ward who is studying for his MA in creative writing. He has agreed to write a poem for the dandelion project and asked for an extension on the deadline (he fits well into student life).

The afternoon ended with a chance encounter - i met with Dr Felipe Otondo who has an office on the same corridor to me and is a lecturer in music technology - and we had a great discussion about dandelions, sound, art and such over a cup of tea. A great day.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

CTC Day 6 - Rain

It rained all day yesterday - it was horrible.

But although i didn't get out onto the grounds much I had a really great day.

I managed to get in to Bowland Tower - the big disused tower block right in the middle of the campus. It's been shut a few years - it used to be accommodation for students, but became infamous for the amount of suicides of students leaping from the top.

Pete Moser is doing 24 hours in the tower as part of the Curate the Campus project - writing a piece of music and broadcasting every hour from the 12th floor of the tower. That's how i managed to get in - i delivered a heater to him.

I have to say it is really nasty inside - bleak, wind swept and drizzle soaked. The window sills were covered in a blanket of dead flies - apparently the whole floor was also covered, but they cleaned it up before Pete stayed there. I admire Pete for his determination - a night in there must have been a real challenge.

I took lots of shots and also noted Wall-rue Asplenium ruta-muraria growing out of a crack in an outside wall 12 floors up, and also Groundsel Senecio vulgaris growing inside the building in a glass sided stairwell.

The day ended with a meeting with Ian Sturzaker the Landscape Manager here at Lancaster University. It was such and interesting chat - we talked about the university policy concerning weeds and management of the grounds. The boundaries of acceptability regarding weeds is interesting in this case: to let weeds live and grow in the pavements and landscaped areas would reveal a lack of care and disrespect for culture. However, the university is situated in fields and woodland - the site is 360 acres in total - so you can't continue a strict regime throughout, therefor weeds are part of the balance in the surrounding habitats.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

CTC Day 5 - KCUF

My fifth day on site started quite well with another bus trip where the kids were far better behaved, subdued even. Perhaps by Friday they are burnt out. While unloading the kids off the bus i noticed across the road someone had made an unsuccessful attempt to write a swear word backwards on the perspex of the bus shelter so people opposite (like me) could read it - it read: KCUF. Made me laugh for the rest of the journey.

I did lots more drawing: i think i've finished about 40 odd pages now, plus I wandered the grounds to collect leaves. I went to the lake and saw scrawny coot chicks and noted many flowers: cuckoo flower, meadow and creeping buttercups, forget-me-nots, figwort, daisies, wild pansy and foxgloves (i've left my note book at the office - so i can't remember the whole list).

Thursday, 12 May 2011

CTC Day 4 - Drawing

I did lots of drawing all yesterday afternoon - doing line drawings of dandelions leaves i've collected from around the site. It was a sunny, windy afternoon with cloud shadows skidding across the landscape.

Today is different - grey sky with some drizzle, a cooler, stiff breeze whipping in from the coast.

I've just had a great meeting with Roger Lang who, until recently, had his CLEO* office here at Balerigg House. He knows the site pretty well and we chatted about dandelions - he told me of a poem he knows about pulling up dandelions - i'm going to try and look it up then i'll put it on the blog.

I'm now going out to collect more specimens to finish the drawing work - a concertina book with a different drawing per page - i've done 20 odd so far and need to do about 60 in total.

*Cumbria and Lancashire Education Online

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

CTC Day 3 - The Journey

The journey here was a trauma. I set off from the house at 7.20 and caught the bus from the centre of Preston.

It was the school bus.

There was only a few other non-teenagers on the bus: huddled together on the lower deck. The collective noise of screeching youths was indescribable - god only knows what the driver had done to get that shift. Thankfully the duration of the school run was quite short and when they all got off the driver stopped for a well earned break and give us all time for reflection.* He kept the doors open during the break - presumably to clear the heady smell of Lynx aftershave.
It took me two hours to get here.

Anyway i just got back from a fab meeting with Emily Adams who is studying a PhD here on Understanding and Managing Honey Bee Health in the UK. We had a lovely walk to a seat below Balerigg House where we sat and chatted about dandelions and bee research while having a cup of tea. While we walked further she gave me lots to think about and how so many different subjects overlap with the dandelion project. We had a great time and we're going to meet again tomorrow.

*I reflected on the thought that i've just bought a weekly ticket.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Curate the Campus Day 2

It's been another fab day here at the Lancaster University campus. I first met with poet Mark Ward who is studying for his MA in creative writing and we arranged to meet later in the residency. I'm hoping he might write something for the project.

It was a drizzly start, but i went over to the far end of the site along the woodland walk. There was only me - i expect all the studes were busy studying and not having time to walk about the beautiful grounds...

I collected a few dandelion leaf specimens in my press and walked back to my office. I have an office! I've never had a job where i had an office (i've had jobs where others have the offices).

After a long walk to the furthest part of the campus from my office I met artists Jonathan Raisin and Elizabeth Willow by random chance in the garden they made last year for the Making Time project. We had a long chat about dandelions and the project - they used an image of a dandelion seed head on their Making Time postcard.

It's really sunny now so i'm off out to explore again.

Curate the Campus Day 1

I started my residency yesterday here at Lancaster University at the Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts.

When i got here in the morning it was a bright sunny morning. Richard Smith, the curator here, showed me around the campus: it's massive - an incredible array of concrete buildings set in some beautiful grounds surrounded by woodland with lots of trails and paths and open parkland with various sports fields.

I spent a couple of hours exploring the woodland and then a walk to the little lake and onto the rugby pitch - where i found this dandelion - and then back up to my little office where i'm based for the project.

The afternoon weather was totally different: it absolutely poured down. But i still managed a walk in the grounds with Richard as we chatted about the project and then i continued to explore the site and gather specimens and get my bearings.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Curate the Campus

From 9th May - 20th May i'll be artist in residence at LICA Lancaster Institute for Contemporary Arts based at Lancaster University.

I'm going to concentrate on the dandelion project while there: i'll collect specimens (as always), but also i'm going to try and meet with as many people as possible from different departments to chat about dandelions within their own area of study.

More info

Sunday, 17 April 2011


I'm working on some designs for window vinyls this last week and have decided i should go through my dandelion leaf archive and trace lots of the different leaves.

I realised i have been collecting leaves since 2007 and from many locations. The window design will contain outlines from Canada, Japan, Germany and lots from around the UK. There are about 50+ outlines on the windows.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011


My housemate was working away from home the other day. While he was driving back he said he noticed a dandelion flower head was on the windscreen, where it stayed for the whole journey.
It had been picked - but he had no idea who placed it there.

Friday, 11 March 2011

First Seeds

I was in Lytham a couple of days ago and walking along the prom in the sunshine and blustery weather and I saw this dandelion: very low on the grass battered by salty sea water, it had already flowered and was in seed. In the last couple of weeks i have noticed one or two dandelions beginning to flower, but this is the first i've seen with a full seed head.

I picked a couple of leaves that are now being pressed in a book under my desk - ready to go into the Dandelion Archive.

Spring is here!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Dandelion Beer

I got a letter through the post last week from my friend Patricia which contained labels from some dandelion beer.

Hi Rebecca

Beer labels enclosed. Interesting that the label illustrates the seed head but the flavour mentioned will be imparted by the flower. John has made wine from Dandelion flowers many times - you have to make sure all the green parts are removed. I bought a bottle of this for John (for part of his Christmas Present) and Miriam bought a bottle for me! Coincidence.

Hope you are well!


The labels are now in the Dandelion archive (a box under my desk). I fancy finding some of the beer and trying it - better still i might try and make some of my own this summer...

Sunday, 13 February 2011


It's been a great week this week for the dandelion project - without even planning it. On thursday I received this email:

Hello Rebecca

"...My mother was an artist and illustrator and whilst I was doing some casual research on the internet I noticed that one of your sources for the 'Dandelion Project' had been a book called 'Botany for fun' by Gareth H. Browning and illustrated by Cecile M. Driffield - my mother...."

The illustration i used on the blog was for Centre for Contemporary Art posted in Jan 2010.

We have exchanged a couple of emails and she has told me a little more about her mother. It's been so lovely to hear more and Cecile M Driffield was a really talented artist of beautiful illustrations. It's made my week.

So, here is another of her illustrations (of dandelions) from the same book Botany for Fun by Gareth H Browning published in 1938.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Holy Grail Tapestry

I'm continuing to locate dandelions in artworks and i found one the other day while looking through a book about mythology.

The Failure of Sir Gawain; Sir Gawain and Sir Uwain at the Ruined Chapel
is one of three Quest for the Holy Grail tapestries held in Birmingham Museum. It was commissioned in 1895 by the industrialist Laurence Hodson, for his house Compton Hall near Wolverhampton. It is made of wool, silk, mohair and camel hair weft on cotton warp and was designed by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris and John Henry Deale.

I've not seen the tapestry close up though and would like to go to Birmingham soon to check it more closely.

One other thing: i just finished a lovely book about dandelions by Anita Sanchez. The Teeth of the Lion - The Story of the Beloved and Despised Dandelion is full of information about dandelions, recipes and stories etc. I found it particularly interesting as, with it being written from an American point of view, the dandelion is an alien, invasive species there and non-native. Sanchez is obviously very fond of dandelions, and not only writes about how they arrived in America, but also discusses how so many Americans really despise the plant and spend huge amounts of time and money on pesticides to eradicate them from beautifully kept lawns.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

New Year Leaves

I'm still collecting dandelion leaves where ever i go...

But, with there being less plants in these winter months plus the fact that i'm not travelling as much at the moment, my collecting is less frequent just now. I did however go on a trip to Yorkshire Sculpture Park this week and collected these two leaves from right near my beehives on the estate. Considering the amount of snow that must have covered them recently they look remarkably healthy.

On another note - i just finished a wonderful book called Weeds by Richard Mabey. He writes about everything i've been researching in the past few years: the human attitude towards nature; how and why we classify species as desirable / undesirable; our perception of the environment etc... The book contains many references to lots of the subjects and people i've been looking at: John Clare's poetry, John Ruskin's writings in Proserpina, Richard Deakin's The Flora of the Colosseum and also the work of Edward Salisbury, John Gerard and Nicholas Culpeper. It's a really great book. Richard Mabey is definitely someone i would love to meet.