Ginkgo Inspiration

I am working on a piece of work for a new gallery space in Finchley which I wrote about in a previous post.  This is going to be a bit rambly, but I wanted to record and share some of my thinking and process here.


I am equally inspired by nature and urban spaces, but it's when the two clash, that I start to get excited!
In exploring the 'gritty' urban space close to the gallery on Finchley High Road,  I was stunned to find a newly planted row of Ginkgo trees.  I have always admired their leaves, and have started to draw and study them.

I bought this lovely little book at the Natural History Museum last weekend.  In it, I read
'The first vascular plants appeared in the Salurian period, 400 million years ago and began to pump oxygen into the atmosphere.  By the time of the Carboniferous (around 330mya), carbon dioxide was getting scarce and tree ferns evolved with leaves that breathed.  Next came height, with gymnosperms - the ginkgos and towering conifers of the late Permian (250mya) and Jerassic (150mya).
These trees are survivors!


I took this photo during my visit to the Natural History Museum.  I love shadow patterns and distortions.  I have been playing with patterns inspired by the Japanese Katagami stencils I saw at MoDA archive with a view to creating a suspended installation in cellebration of ginkgo leaves.


Someone told me the German poet, scientist, botanist and philosopher, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe also admired ginkgos and wrote a poem about them in 1815.  
Here it is translated into English. 

This leaf from a tree in the East,
Has been given to my garden.
It reveals a certain secret,
Which pleases me and thoughtful people.

Does it represent One living creature
Which has divided itself?
Or are these Two, which have decided,
That they should be as One?

To reply to such a Question,
I found the right answer:
Do you notice in my songs and verses
That I am One and Two?



ginkgo leaf design entwined by Jo Angell