The Garden Inspectorate

The ‘Garden Inspectorate’ is showing at Visual Arts Scotland ‘Then and Now’ exhibition, 2024. It forms part of a series of drawing, painting and animated works called ‘Ghosts in the Garden’.  Paintings from this can be viewed here and are showing at the Open Eye Gallery in April 2024.

In 2021 I made, each day, for 100 days, an observational pen drawing around my garden as part of the #100DayProject. Each drawing the same size on brown paper and taking around 30 minutes. I developed these drawings into backdrops for an improvised narrative animation. The story evolved into the trials of a family of passionate home gardeners being visited by the unwelcome ‘Garden Inspectorate’ who arrive on mass in a van for an unexpected audit. I am haunted by a lifetime of institutional inspections.

I’ve harboured ambitions to be a comic book artist and animator longer than I have a painter. The tools to make animations are now much cheaper and easier to learn and use than the animations I devoured and tried to copy as a child. For now I have settled using a bespoke ‘iPad’ applcation called ‘Animation Pro’. Certainly not industry standard, it allows me to create a series of drawn or painted 2d puppets and switch their angle and position against a series of drawn background. It all look and moves in a clumsy way, not unlike the 60s and 70s Peter Lord five minute animations which bridged the end of childrens TV and the national BBC News.

The short animation ‘The Garden Inspectorate’ mixes the anxiety of the visit by a team of auditors hell bent on taking the fun and creatively out of gardening, an invasion imposing doctrine informed by the committee room and not in the field. It finishes with darker overtones reflecting our fears for the war in Europe as the world leaps from one existential crisis to another.