The bright sunshine on the freezing ground created widespread mist and fog yesterday morning. By the time I reached Winchester the sunshine was cutting through to give a soft-focus quality to the landscape. I took my trusty folding bike for a spin up to Twyford Down. Do you remember the 'rape of the earth' battles over the M3 extension through this downland habitat? You can just see the M3 above the hedge on the right-hand edge of this picture. It has taken a massive slice of land out of the ecosystem, an enormous gouge through the chalk, severing Twyford Down from St Catherine's Hill - but I have to admit to finding it very convenient when driving to Southampton!
The Winchester Sewage Farm is a more wonderful location than it may sound. Looking down onto it from the Morestead Road I began to wish I had the Harry Potter summoning charm and could 'accio' my spotting scope to survey the lagoon and marshy grassland far below me.
The lagoon is downhill behind these oak trees on the left and this is about as close as the public can get to it. The small pale strand on the centre-right, one third of the way up the photo, is a gull roost. I do a quick count and estimate there are about 500 gulls on this piece of wetland. Rumour has it that there is an Iceland Gull [note the complete absence of black on the wings]among them. It was seen on Monday morning and reported on the Goingbirding Hampshire website). To be honest, it's the Iceland Gull that has brought me up here as I've never seen one before but without my (60x)'scope there is no way to pick it out among the tiny white specks I can see through my (8x) binoculars. There are also several smallish waders feeding in the mud but too distant to identify. A Stock Dove settles in the oak tree, close to a male Kestrel which is watching my every move.
Turning back to the downland, walking among some over-familiar, coat-nibbling sheep, I find a pair of Yellowhammer, Goldcrest, Meadow Pipit and a pair of Buzzards around the enclosure where I am standing. I need to be heading back to art school - it's only a fifteen minute bike ride from here, mostly downhill.
I recall making a circular walk very close to this spot last year, from which I adapted a map by taking out all the text within the circle. Here's the section showing the sewage farm (top right quarter)with its strange concentric drainage ditches, and St Catherine's Hill (with view point).
Back at base I attend a meeting about some children's workshops being planned for Winchester Discovery Centre during the Easter holidays. I am keen to be involved as I have found that I really enjoy helping people experiment with new creative processes.
In a brief lunchbreak I have the privilege of discussing work with three artists whose work I admire: Lydia Keith, Nick Stewart and Marc Hulson. One of the things I really appreciate about art school is being able to meet practicing artists and hear them talk about their work. I mention my plans for a collaborative project, recruiting 41 other artists to respond to the texts made by visitors to my installation last week. Nick and Marc had some sound suggestions about setting it up as an exhibition and setting parameters for the work to help make it cohesive.
Tomorrow I need to get into the print workshop and start on a woodcut I want to make into an edition for Book Day on 7 March. I will use this drawing from last month as a basis for a woodcut. I hope to use some of the text too, if I can manage to carve the script clearly enough into my block of plywood.