The Walking Studio Gardens

February 27, 2021

The Botanic Gardens (Dublin) is home to 17 000 plants from around the world including 300 endangered species. In size it is 50 acres featuring a pond, river, vegetable garden, wild plants, and flower displays. It is an ideal place to indulge in forest bathing within pine and cedar trees with scents that are invigorating. Forest bathing is dwelling in an atmosphere of trees that re-charges with a vigour of replenishment. The experience nurtures as an antidote to the strains and tensions in life and concentrations on urgency and preoccupations.

Forest bathing or shinrin-yoku is a wellbeing practice based in Japan that encourages time with trees for restoration of both mind and body. It is the rejuvenating elements of pine, cedar and eucalyptus that brings solace and optimism. In a botanic garden international species of trees form community and develop a companionship with the locals. The aroma of each tree’s essential oils is not only uplifting, but an immersive encounter with an environment that surrounds as a balm and a stimulus.

“Shinrin-yoku was developed in the 1980s in Japan. Although people had been taking walks in the country’s forests for centuries, new studies showed that such activity could reduce blood pressure, lower cortisol levels and improve concentration and memory. A chemical released by trees and plants, called phytoncides, was found to boost the immune system. As more research highlighted the benefits of shinrin-yoku, the Japanese government incorporated it into the country’s health programme” Harriet Sherwood (2019) Getting Back to Nature: How Forest Bathing Can Make Us Feel Better, The Guardian.

Being with silence and the desire to wander, without expectations, can in itself be a remedy and a elixir that fuels other pursuits with a heightened sense of purpose and a lack of restrictions upon one’s accessibility to encounters.

Eucalyptus Bark
Pine and Cedar Grove for Forest Bathing
A map of the Botanic Gardens, Dublin

The Walking Studio Parks

February 25, 2021

Shelters, Habitats, Nests and Retreats

This is an invitation to become part of a walking art collective. Our studios will be our localities, our walking routes and our artistic quests to photograph, make and write about what we find along the way of everyday journeys.

I hope we can share our walks together through photographs, reflections and artworks. We will meet in our shared artistic encounters documenting our surroundings that create impressions in the moment and beyond.

My recent walks have been discovering human nests in Phoenix Park, Dublin. These are large habitats made by people within the park’s forests. These dens have multiplied in number and feature designs handmade by those who frequent the park. They are available for personal retreats, forest schools, family occupations and group escapes. As a form of social media (socially constructed with a multiplier effect), they are landmarks in a common landscape of people.

A forest shelter and habitat in Phoenix Park, Dublin

Below you will see an aerial view of Phoenix Park, one of the largest enclosed parks within a European capital city. The park was established in 1662 and it is home to deer, foxes, badgers and rabbits. Throughout the park there are forests, gardens, lakes and paths going into wild and quiet places. During darkness the park is a sanctuary for solitary walkers, who travel with night vision, moonlight and with street lanterns to guide their passage.

“The commons as public park is there for the making—place making is integral to experiencing the commons as an archive of landscape that is environmentally designed by people and ecology as co-creators. A public park is there for everyone, a location that can be re-formed by art making, and a declaration of how to create with materials that are readily available” (https://en.ecopoiesis.ru/aktualnoe/news_post/habitats-of-composition-the-nature-of-the-commons)

The creative pursuits of a walk are many, and within each roaming there is a studio to be discovered along the way.

Phoenix Park is depicted in the map above, as the large green area
An aerial view of Phoenix Park
A deer herd in Phoenix Park, Dublin
A walking journal with grass and leaf imprints

A Response Walk by Bridget Nugent

“The experience of walking around the town park was paradoxical, it was busy yet peaceful, some trees were bare after the winter but there was also an abundance of greenery, in areas it looked like there was no life yet what you could hear was full of life- the birds singing and kids playing. The car park was full yet the paths were empty. A fresh walk for a Saturday evening.”

Drum Manor Forest Park is located near Cookstown, Northern Ireland. The park was created from the pleasure groups developed in the 1800’s around a Manor House in the vicinity.

Drum Manor Forest Park, Cookstown (Northern Ireland)