Art and Writing Class (April-July 2021)

Art and Writing Hearth is run by Jane Ray, Sita Brahmachari and Ros Asquith on Tuesdays at 3pm.

This term each week we choose a different part of the garden. Come to the art and writing hearth each week and bring ideas from the garden or other green spaces

Be inspired by the art, song, poems and conversation

The Garden

Feathery World

As Light as a Feather

Painting by E.E

Fluttering feathers settling on a white page
Dyed and natural
Grand peacock plumes with irridescent eyes
And regular brown markings of the guinea fowl
A breezy-waft of majestic ostrich feather
Marvelling at the power of a soaring eagle
Aviation inspiration
Cooing at the sweetness of Picasso’s dove
Olive branch in beak
Contemplating leaf-vein markings
Beating hearts as light as feathers

Quills sharpened to paint
feathers with a feather
Black and white veins
floating in on water colours
Blues, greens and yellows
Inspired by E.E’s Peacock meditation
Beautiful bird of splayed feathers
A field of buttercup-faces
Yellow eyes raised to the sun
Lighting up the bank of a speckled grey river

Inspiration drifting to
Symbols for luck, protection, national bird, warding off danger
Or bringing an ‘evil- eye’
Depending on cultures, myth, tradition
Worn on ritual headdresses
Rare plumes for status
Feather fashions fly across the globe
As birds do
Bringing parrot brightness
Fanned feathers for showing off

Or the mottled markings of an owl
Nestling in a tree hollow
Camouflaged in bark
Seeking safety

Quills at the ready
We humans feather-paint
chitter-chatter about our feathered-friends

Beating- hearts as light as feathers

Below are some of the images and poems that inspired our work

Mini Beasts

Tiny creatures

Who do we think of first,
in our garden, when we ponder tiny beasts?
Ladybirds! Butterflies! Bees!
These we love, but nobody loves
A slug.
And what, really, is the point of a wasp?

Whereas bees, bees, bees,
provide one third of all our food.
If we lose our bees, we lose our bread.

We admire the stick insect, and the leaf insect,
Their simple camouflage delights us,
We appreciate the scarab beetle, the gorgeous dragonfly,
the industrious ant, whose colonies inspire us.
These we love, but nobody loves a wasp, a mosquito,
A slug. There are no poems praising these.

Whereas bees, bees, bees!
If we lose our bees, we lose our bread.

And as we giggle in our garden, our hive of activity,
busy as bees, snug as bugs in rugs -we realise that
Tiny creatures are super heroes,
-the perfect symmetry of the butterfly,
The spider’s web stronger than steel,
the rhinoceros beetle more powerful than any rhino,
the flea leaping higher than an Olympic athlete.
And we imagine a planet where they are tall and we
are tiny -terrified of their pincers, bug eyes,
Their beating wings, their stings.

The only fly in our ointment is that we must fly
away until next week, when we meet again in
Our garden of delights.

Oh where would we be without bees, bees, bees.
If we lose our bees, we lose our bread.

Below are some of the images and poems that inspired our work


Islington Nest Building

Welcome to our creative nest
made of Papier Mache
ripped up news
glued and sculpted with rough edges like a nest
painted brown.

In flies a bright bird
with rose red wings, blue body, green and yellow too
carrying feathers in its beak
feathering a fluffy, downy nest.

Is this a male Bird of Paradise
colours bright to attract the females?
beginning the mating ritual
comical call of warbled convulsions
watching their mating dance is mesmerising
the way they stare at each other, unblinking

Three feathers have drifted down
This bird builds a recycled home
of safety, security and creativity
A maternity ward for babies
Nest building’s, like home building
Or larger, more ambitious… an Olympic stadium in Japan is ‘The Bird’s Nest’

We have flown far to be here
a bird will fly far to find her partner
together they will build their nest
lay eggs
and their shells will hatch into fledgling
Swallow, Starling, Magpie, Cuckoo, Bird of Paradise
open mouthed
waiting for food, strength building
until they are strong enough to fly

Wonder at a murmuration of Starlings
Millions of them drifting, gliding, soaring, swirling, fluttering, floating, dancing
across the skies, forming the shape of a single migratory bird
flying so far that they sleep on the wing
gliding onwards
till finally landing
to build a new nest for Spring.

Below are some of the images and poems that inspired our work


Seed Poem

Mother Earth, her rivers flowing
waters breaking, giving birth.
Her green fingers sowing kernels,
planting pips, Mother Earth.

Here are pine, pistachio, walnuts,
growing trees, spreading leaves,
as we gossip in our garden,
weaving dreams out of seeds.

There’s a tree of many colours,
standing tall, alive with birds
as the Earth laughs in flowers
lending music to our words.

Mother Earth reaps her harvest,
quietly tending to our needs,
as we paint, as we write,
weaving dreams out of seeds.

Below are some of the images and poems that inspired our work


Blossom tree painting by N

The Garden of my Mind

In Lockdown I have painted, planted and painted
In Lockdown I have painted
my way back to spring
In the garden of my mind
Flowers and fruit have blossomed
In the garden of my mind
I have survived

I have painted and painted
a soft, smooth, purple aubergine
a crunchy, orange carrot
a round, red and tender tomato
full of seeds and sweet to the taste
a sweet, sweetcorn
ripened yellow by the sun
In Lockdown I have painted, planted and painted
In Lockdown I have painted
my way back to spring
In the garden of my mind
Flowers and fruit have blossomed
In the garden of my mind
I have survived

Tree painting by N

In Lockdown I have planted
Onions that sting my eyes
and make me cry
but still I eat them
and still I paint
The layers of an onion
are like life
I paint red chillies
They burn hot on my brush and on my tongue
In Lockdown I have painted, planted and painted
In Lockdown I have painted
my way back to spring
In the garden of my mind
Flowers and fruit have grown
In the garden of my mind
I have survived

In Lockdown I have painted through the seasons
Flowers of the spring
Soft, sweet fruit of summer strawberries
Apples in the Autumn orchards

falling on a bed of leaves
Winter berries, bare branches
In Lockdown I have painted, planted and painted
In Lockdown I have painted
my way back to spring
In the garden of my mind
Flowers and fruit have blossomed
In the garden of my mind
I have survived

Now I hear the bird-song calling me

Poem by N

Below are some of the images and poems that inspired our work

The Elements


Communal Poem

We see the colours of the rainbow
Drift, and blend, until brown emerges.
Brown is all the colours in one
The colour of our Earth, our planet.
We see the whole world in our hands, as Stevie Wonder did,
And we imagine the Earth sifting through our fingers,
to fall to land and grow new life.
We think of Mother Earth as Mother Nature,
Resting amid mountains, her coverlet made
Of fields and forests
Her tears cry rivers, lakes and seas.
We name ourselves and tell of our brown beloveds:
Potatoes, bread, chocolate, nuts, caramels, coffee.
We speak our admiration of earthworms,
And our revulsion as they slither and squirm.
We admire the rings of a tree trunk, telling both its age
And the climate of its years,
Like the layers of Earth itself,
A history of civilisations.
The pigments of Earth, sienna, umber, ochre,
Used by Rembrandt for his portraits,
Used by native Americans
to paint the rough, majestic, powerfully muscled bison.
Beautiful brown bison.
We visit the underground world of animals,
The dens and warrens and sets of foxes, rabbits and badgers,
We see the brown angel winged horse,
As if imprinted on a rock, like a fossil.
We dream with the hibernating big, brown, bear.
We gather round our Earthen hearth
Contemplating our planet.
And if we were to handle the red dust of Mars
Or the silver dust of the moon,
Would we call it Earth?


From waters to waters


placing hands in the water
stirring words
Splash, wavy, flow, trickle
Percolate, gush, surge, spray, icy cold,
shiny, shimmery water
Reflection sparkling
Finding a river
Picking pebbles from the sea shore
Star fish, shells
ceramic sardines
Blue wave cresting on a page
Shells shape and wave-arc repeated
Patterning of sea and shore
Hearing the call of the sea in the conch shell
We’re away now on watery tides
Sailing in a boat of hearts

IMG_5721Reflecting on water lilies floating under the bridge
Picking up speed
Surging to the rapids
Water horses
Cresting waves
Surging blue of tails and manes
White horses galloping
Then diving down to treasure chests
Sailing with Seurat to serenity

different-faces-2-2Relaxing, bathing, contemplating water
Lulling us to sensation
Lowering into warm water
a babe in arms
taking her first bath
From waters to waters
Natural sponge on skin.


Artwork by E.E

Mapping the oceans
Swimming along the river to the sky
Collaging in art and words
Discovering mermaids and the mysteries of the deep.

Funny tales, fishy-faced
Legs where mermaid’s fin should be
Telling jokes ‘Is an anemone your friend or your enemy?’
Snorkling for platypus, narwhale, tortoise, jellyfish,
Seaweed, crab, dolphins, starfish, eels
Meandering through the underwater weeds
Spying creatures of the deep
Singing a river lullaby
‘The River is flowing, flowing and growing’
Sailing from waters to waters
Mother earth carries us
back to the sea

Below are some of the images and poems that inspired our work


Fire Bird

Fire Bird
Spark life
Fire Hearth
Flowing a Diwali candle river
Rose poem, flower petals
Word confetti

Eyes rising to stars and Planet fire
Toasting socks by the Hearth
Heart- fire, focus, core
Fire in the belly

Fire burst
Painting sun
Bright rays of Turner’s fire sky, water reflections
A herd of fire horses galloping
To our Hearth, collaged sun
Mane, hooves, spirits ablaze

From mouth watering Barbecue
Cooking on summer fires
Where food always tastes better
To a volcanoes eruption
Lava of sunflowers
Light fantasy
Sparking humour
What if Christmas trees dressed humans with candles?
Fired up
Embers glowing
Down to earth again
Decoding words
Under fire, Fire up.Fire off, Can’t fight fire with fire

Trail-blazing to fairy tales
Mythical, magical flames
Phoenix rising
Hope from ashes
Immortal bird
Lighting fireworks in our minds
Artist magic flame wings fan
As we gather around the warmth of the Hearth
Chatting away
“This bird regenerates every five hundred years”
“There is only ever one Phoenix”
“Bird of paradise”
“Like a golden Pheasant”
“Ruby rising from the flame.”
“Flapping wings”
“All dressed up in feathers”
Watching, learning, fire-colours smudging, toning , blending
Dancing bird, flame-feathered
Sparking life from ash
And here she is this Phoenix
Red, orange, ruby rising

Jewel bird, hot off the press
Gift from the Hearth
Emerging before our eyes
Hope rising
We are warmed by your flame
Fire Bird

Below are the images and phrases that inspired our work.


Our breezy spirits rise and fall with airy signs
Gemini, Libra, Aquarius.
Twins, dancing, swimming, balancing, flying,

We laugh at fresh air trapped, ‘100% pure Scottish air’!
Bottled by tricksters and sold to fools.
And yet, might we breathe this bottled air
and, in our imaginations, be whisked

Luminous sunset clouds, iridescent, thrumming wings of
shimmering, glimmering, humming birds.
And a magnificent shape-shifting murmuration
of starlings.

The eye of a peacock’s tail reflects all our faces.
Our stressed brains and hearts, twisted, shell like,
are soothed by breathing, slowly, in, out.

Ariel’s spirit floats on the breeze,
magic in every part of him, he bears the NEWS,
(North. East, West, South,) in clouds.

We build kites of broomsticks and newspapers,
combine our elements in hot air balloons,
build castles in the air,
ride wild winged horses, wind in our hair.

We flutter, drift, float, we walk on air,
On gossamer threads, light hearted,
Blowing in the wind.

Below are the images and song that inspired our work.

If you would like more information on our Art and Writing class please email us at