He says it doesn’t matter if you draw, or write books.
It doesn’t matter if you saw wood, or catch fish.
It doesn’t matter if you sit at home and stare at the ants on your veranda
or the shadows of the trees and grasses in your garden.
It matters that you feel.
It matters that you notice.
Since my recent talk in Hollywood, I have being startled to reflect how my artful forest work might affecting others… and how, in turn, it is highlighting others’ special skills of relating to place.
In fact, I’ve been surprised by the trickle of visitors coming to Hollywood over the last year– how rich some of the discussions are, the gifts people are bringing back to the work and what gets noticed.
A couple of visitors in the last week have certainly astonished me and I talk about the first visitor in this post.
A longtime visitor to Hollywood is a friend and gifted woodworker, Albert Fogarty. Although the term woodworker doesn’t really do Albert justice. Albert has been working, on and off, at our place since we have built our home in Hollywood ten years ago. He skillfully put in our wooden floors, and also constructed a wonderful custom-made slatted shed for drying the logs we thin from Hollywood (dry wood is a necessity as we are in the process of getting a wood gasifier to heat our home to move away from oil and all the dilemmas that relying on fossil fuels entails). Albert also last summer created a unique one-off open studio for my husbands’ stone carving work.
Albert’s ethos shines through all his work – the selection process of the timber he works with is always carefully attended to; for example, our own Sitka spruce is not suitable for construction (it grows too fast for strength) so Albert sources all the timber locally, if possible, or uses recycled timber. Sometimes this can take time; there will conversations to assess a balance in cost and timber availability, but this a crucial attending that sustains a local forest economy. Albert is a 4th generation woodworker so I expect at times he doesn’t realise the care he gives in this respect. Far too many rush thoughtlessly to use imported timbers in Ireland, that may be more easily available but in doing so give little support to our fledgling forest economy, or worse, ignore the devastation imported timbers from other regions may incur.
Over the years Albert has also been witnessing the development of my own artful forest work. Many times over shared lunches we’ve been discussing all things ‘foresty’ – from the values of different timbers to the despair we share about the negligent use of timbers imported from communities afar, also knowing that this is a tragic irony when Ireland itself still suffers from the consequences of a long history of deforestation.
But what astonished me was a work, just installed here last weekend, that Albert created in a barter exchange for one of my husband’s stone sculptures. (see slideshow below)