GARDENING WITH GRAFFITI

Like many others, spending time in my garden – whether growing vegetables, tidying up the flower beds, mowing or just sitting – has kept me sane and made me happy during the months in and out of lockdown. One favourite part is relatively new:  a courtyard with surrounding terraced beds planted with alpines and other small plants. These beds started to attract found objects on the right scale – rocks, shells, old iron tools etc – but it felt that something more was needed. Gnomes were out of the question, or so I thought……

Enjoying a socially distanced glass of wine with Natalie Bicât and her husband Nick in their garden one evening late last Spring, I first heard of ObjectGraffiti.  They mentioned that their daughter Kit Bicât, an artist, and Nick’s sister Tina Bicât, a theatre designer, inventor and maker, were locked down together in Putney. Nick showed me photos of little painted and dressed clay figures of people associated with
Putney, such as George Eliot and Daniel Defoe, which they had made and just left at the relevant locations  – illicit in the way that regular graffiti are,  unauthorized and usually ephemeral but,  like  Banksy’s murals, also works of art.  The idea set my imagination on fire, and I suddenly had a mental picture of ObjectGraffiti akin to traditional garden gnomes but of gardeners I admired.  I asked them if they would consider making me figures of Gertrude Jekyll and Vita Sackville-West, and they agreed. Some weeks later I was amazed and delighted to see the skill, artistry and devotion which Tina and Kit had put into the figures. On fine days, the figures spend happy hours experiencing different areas of the garden: while Miss Jekyll steps with dignity and care through the beds, taking note of the planting, Vita takes a break with a ciggie but looks as if she would jump up in a second if I needed a hand! Although they are able to withstand a little adverse weather, I took pity on them back in the Autumn so they are under cover at the moment, waiting for the day they can get back into the garden.

Once the pandemic is over and we get back to some sort of normal, perhaps I can persuade them to come to a meeting of the Hort. Soc. along with one or two other friends who have joined them – more about these another time. In the meantime, if anyone is interested in finding out more about ObjectGraffiti, or even commissioning their own figure – it doesn’t have to be a gardener or historical figure – have a look at Instagram @objectgraffiti, and either email tinabicat@gmail.com, natbicat@mac.com or contact me.

Shirley Wiggs 01580-850108 or shirleywiggs60@gmail.com