Tuesday, 8 September 2009


The garden project display has finally been completed after displaying for gardens weekend which was on the 5th and 6th of September.

So much has happened and allot of changes had been made.

Managing this project became quite difficult after plans had been changed due to the first existing space that we were given to us had, to be altered. There was no existing plan for this second space due to time was running out so everything was put together daily by using existing materials that were lying around. We utilized what already existed within the space such as purple slate, stones and various few plants. Due to the change of space we were now working with a smaller scale section. The original theme wasn't expressed as clearly so the wall became the focal point being The Avant Gardeners visual experience. Firstly the wall needed to be painted to prevent damage done to plants.

The wall feature was an abstract architectural painting of a house to incorporate the transformation of the house environment to the garden. On the back wall features a wall paper interior feel which was painted by Tim. The colours were a worm feel making this area a comfortable lounge section. I really enjoyed Tims involvement as this wall gives a birds eye landscape look. Wooden railway sleepers were able to get cut into size to create a decking feature, stones that were in the square cubes were taken out and placed on the ground to give more texture to the space. Slate was washed and put back into place leaving room for the side beds to be planted. Choosing plants were difficult as they had to be considered for colour harmonization and all round growth. Due to the deadline for gardens weekend, we all became quite stressful and anxious towards the end of the project but I believe that the timing was right on getting the space completed.


Another example of where i see change could be improved is a local park near where I live. A small youth community project has been put together by Chantel and friends who are willing to get young people motivated using creative arts. The name of this is called INFLUENCE. This is situated in the metal Hub off Selcroft Avenue based in Quinton. This project is the umbrella organisation of Welsh House Farm Youth Project.
I was concerned about this pod looking building as there had been graffiti art painted on already and i didn't know what this metal hub was used for. The hub was vandalized over time with tags and it needed a new makeover. Luckily I had been asked to paint the hub by a friend who lives locally and we are now in the process of decorating this hub. More local artists will get involved so please stay tuned to see the finished look.
Discussions are being made to work with related organisations to improve the existing surroundings.
For more information please contact liftyouthproject@gmail.com

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Rhubarb Radio

On Sunday 23rd I was on Rhubarb radio at MAGPI BROWN’S TREASURE NEST to further talk about the garden project.
Selections of my music compositions as well as Felix Jackson’s were played highlighting the avant gardeners soundtracks.
As this garden exploration continues art minds think alike working in collaboration transforming walls and spaces into decorative environments.
As mentioned the philosophy for this space had been split up into three areas first one being House and home, the second Global spirit and the third Conscience Number 9. Through this space the aim is to explore our outdoor environments coming away from home comforts reaching out to community spaces and working together in teams. A more in-depth description will be explained thoroughly at Gardens weekend form the 5th-6th so head down for a discussion.

With the garden space looking almost complete my father came to join and participate with the project. There had been a few obstacles in the way as a hand injury accrued after crashing off my bike whilst making a sudden turn... (How silly of me) so work had to be delegated and instructed.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Project Progress

Now that the funding has been secured,

the Garden

Project is now is progress!
With new volunteers, Sally Sherlock, Faye Binnell, Tim Skinner has agreed to participate and help out.
Faye Binnell is currently studying at B.C.U, Visual arts and Tim Skinner freelance artist specializing in abstract lettering painting. Tim has an interior modern geometrical style working solo on commission freelance work who has been involved in graffiti art since the early 80's.

Creative designs amongst us are being discussed and a wall art feature is being painted which eventually will compliment the garden space when finished.
Plants and various materials are yet to be brought, however we have acquired some recycled items which we plan to utilize within the garden space.
The publicity and advertisements are being planned out.

Stay tuned as there will be more updates.
The final show will be commencing on the 5th and 6th of September.

Monday, 17 August 2009



Away from the Garden Project the Avant gardeners have stumbled upon a plot of land filled with some very interesting found objects.
a garden measuring 30 ft long filled with pots, buckets, pipes, door frames, wood and a tent material. A homemade green house has been built. Four bedding areas exist in the garden growing very little vegetables but over grown weeds and maintenance has been neglected. There's a Japanese wine berry bush and a water feature that is yet to be built.
Working together myself and Tessa Burwood plan to focused on the garden. We began work at the end garden gathering tools that where fit to use. We cleared debris raking old leaves into green waste bags picking up rubbish and placing into black bags. Large sticks and stones where gathered in a pile and before sunset a fire was made while we gathered round and ate. Tessa Burwood and brother Dan have lived in their home for some time and have implemented there garden space by finding abandoned items left in the street.
There are so many little clusters of things that just need moving. Over the next two months we plan to focus on these clusters and straighten out the garden making it recycle friendly and presentable.
We hope you enjoy this upbeat sound track.

Music produced by Martin Felix Jackson

Monday, 13 July 2009

Project Garden Space

With funding nearly secured the project garden space hit upon several problems earlier on in the month. Firstly the actual space that we had spent so much time clearing was earmarked for the council to use for their ‘silver guilt medal’ award winning design in the urban garden category at the Chelsea flower show. They will be showcasing this garden at the gardeners weekend show in September. The group involved in our design were all very disappointed, however after talks with the park staff and college tutors we have now managed to secure another area we can develop. This caused a few problems with the designs as the new area is totally

different. As well as this one student has now decided he no longer wants to be part of the project and another is away on holiday and cannot be contacted to sign forms that the Princes Trust need to release the funds to the project. So, it has all been rather stressful and the future of the project is now in question. We have written an email to the awards manager to explain the situation and are hoping that the enthusiasm and dedication of the other members of the group will shine through and that the Princes Trust will still fund us. During this time we have also been discussing how the art that we are interested in showcasing and our other ideas can be best promoted and shown to members of the public. Talks have begun with local galleries and we are looking into other gallery spaces. A huge part of the design project is arts based with a portfolio of works collated over a period of nearly 12 months now. We are trying to use this body of work to complement the garden design in the park. Leon will contact the arts council and also ‘Edgbaston one’ to see how best to do this. So, we are waiting to hear back from the Princes Trust and

will post an update as soon as possible.

The Original space was split into three sections with the themes. 1.House Home Garden 2.Global Spirit 3.Concious Number 9

With a new and smaller area it became difficult to include these subjects into our new space.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Summer Season

Garden Space 1

My garden space is now becoming my little nest, with collected wood that I have gathered from fallen trees and collected stones to build around my fire pit. I have gathered wood and stacked against my fence to cover gaping gaps and to stop outsiders from peering in. I have managed to collect various small shrubs and flowers which I have been busy planting in the beds near the fence. My aim is that this will create a cluttered and visually intriguing feel to the garden space. After having nothing at all in the garden I am now filling it with an abundance of new plant life. With ferns sprouting in plant pots I am able to move them around the garden. I have removed three slabs to make room for more plants and continue to create additional features using reclaimed and recycled items- chairs that someone had thrown out into the street, a metal bed base and an old metal tool box. Convolvulus is pruned regularly as it is fast growing and would overtake the whole garden. Although most people would remove it entirely I like its foliage and the screen cover it gives so I am happy to take the time to prune it and keep it under control. I like the idea of dens and nests- a camouflaged shelter enclosed by foliage. In both gardens I am hoping to achieve this effect in both gardens and it will be interesting to see how the different resources in each space will affect the end result.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Summer Season


Garden space 2.

As the sun shines and the plants flourish we have been busy in our gardens, working both independently and together maintaining our garden spaces. Summer is a time for entertaining outdoors, inviting friends round to share summer evenings together, sitting round the bonfire and enjoying each others company. A time to have bbq's and enjoy the outdoor environment. This has been our motivation for recent work in the gardens.

As well as the clean up of the garden spaces we are now trying to be more productive and grow our own fruit and vegetables. The shelf storage area has been utilized to store seedlings that are hardy enough to be outdoors. As well as being very practical the shelving with all its new plants has now become an interesting feature itself, and also stores bbq equipment, recycle boxes, gardening gloves and bin bags. This makes a good link between the house and the garden. A new vegetable plot has been dug and lawn had to be removed and patio slabs lifted. Unusually the veg plot is at the front of the garden near to the house instead of the more traditional 'at the bottom of the garden' location. Again this brings the production of food closer to the home, making the veg plot more accessible and easier to maintain. This area of the garden has become an extension of the kitchen with herbs growing just outside the back door, the BBQ near to the storage area and soon there will vegetables just outside the door ready to dig up and cook.

In the rest of the garden we have done general weeding and clearing and moved some plants around, changing certain areas. The stick feature has taken on a life of its own, leaves have begun to sprout from the once bare branches and grass is growing upwards making the feature feel more like a wall separating the rest of the garden from what lies beyond. Beyond the stick feature we have planted plants along the fence adding colour and softening the boundary line. The fire is now a dominant part of this area and an interesting focal point, made from house bricks and curving round to protect the fire from the wind. Wood ready to be burnt on the fire is stored in this area. Bark from a fallen tree is kept in a terracotta pot and that too makes an interesting feature. The major change to this area is that it is now becoming more 'cave' like. This is what we had hoped to achieve and now that the ivy is growing abundantly the results are very pleasing. Ivy has been trained up sticks that have been pushed into the ground and is now being trained to grow over the top of this area. With regular maintenance this will form a roof like structure over the area making it feel more cosy and private.

The edges of the lawn have been cut to define them and change the shape of the lawn slightly. This is in keeping with the new plant growth and newly created veg plot. New plants (Oxalis triangularis) .have been planted in the flower beds giving new interest and different coloured foliage.

Leon Sparkes

Rachael Hawkins


Monday, 6 April 2009

Garden Gameplay

A short video clip that shows a snap shot look into the family life outside in the spring garden.

Domestic chores and phone call answering while mum cooks and children play.

Wacky faces and imaginative minds sending you back to your child hood days.

Games and videos that we connect and transfer to the internet to share with others.

(digital portal)

I thought this was a great footage to present using sound and moving image.

Through this project we see that the garden is an extension of the home, another room and a significant place to learn adapt and grow.

House home garden

Friday, 13 March 2009





Original Photographs taken by Michelle Byrne

Digitally re-mastered by Leon Sparkes

Robin Hood Bay, North Yorkshire

Landscape 2.The Sea thought sail

As man stands

Looks across an ocean sea

To see the distance that he may travel

Our land

To Inherit and sow seed

To live and work with nature

As a graffiti artist there are no rules.

No barriers and limitations.

Our city street landscapes are our canvas.

If we are to make markings and deface walls with image art,

Then, our streets become a gallery.

I had been asked to add my creative approach to photographs that had been taken by

Michelle Byrne

To merge graffiti markings on to natural landscape features.

My approach to these collections is to make a stand and question our environment, to set sail to new horizons to bury graffiti and take on new approaches by using natural and other forms of media.

The Avant gardeners approach is simply this, to decorate the land and to make creative changes to how we live and use our surroundings.

Leon Sparkes

Rachael Hawkins



Friday, 27 February 2009

Project Status

As it stands, we have manged to speak to funding bodies to back us with this project. We have requested volunteers from the college to help us with this project and college staff are helping us with this matter giving us their full support.
The project will continue and fully be of the ground in April. In the mean time we as the Avant Gardeners are keeping ourselves busy with smaller manageable garden displays and visual graphic designs.

Garden Update 14/3/09

In Rachael’s garden there are interesting features that need to be enhanced.

With two children it’s not as easy to keep the garden as its best. With toys and objects to play with that can always distract the eye from garden features.

Storing and keeping toys together helps to maintain and keep the garden looking presentable.

First major task was to clear unwanted waste from the shed. This gave more room to keep toys and other house hold objects. Its good to clear out sheds and cupboards it helps check what we have stored.

It always concerns me to think how certain recycled items could be reused. In this situation most of the unwanted waste had to be thrown away to clear space. I find sometimes collecting recycled items is handy to create artwork or to use for other alternatives (Solve other related problems). If not filtered correctly, unwanted waste may cause blockage within the home and creates more mess. If there are suitable containers to keep these items maintained, plastic, cardboard and metal then it becomes a more efficient system.

The side beddings where dug up and certain plants were moved to catch the eyes attention.

Daffodils, blue bells, sea holly and small bulbs where moved in suitable areas. Weeds and dead debris where picked and thrown in green waste bags. Plants in plant pots were moved near the door entrance to give instant attraction.

Garden essentials such as spade, fork, gloves, and recycling box were moved toward the back door onto a garden shelf for easy access. This shelf had been at the bottom of the garden but was hard to get to. It had a plastic green house cover but needed to be thrown away due to torn and ripped edges.

More stones were collected and rearranged for garden features in two sections on either end of the garden. This walk way path was eye catching and by placing branches and a plant pot near made it an interesting feature.

Twig branches had been cut down earlier within the year from the front garden and stored. The aim was to use the twigs either for a bonfire, or to attach branches to a tree. I decided to create a fence to separate the bottom compost area from the rest of the garden.

By piercing sticks into the ground I created a fence. More sticks are needed but this shows that every year you can always reuse garden materials in some way. I like this idea and will continue to develop this further.

With time and effort wood can always be reused to create small seats and additional features.

Some house hold furniture was thrown out and had been stored by the side walk entrance. This space was cleared and wood was used for a fire.

Towards the end of the day I had dug a foot deep hole in the ground near the compost area where I placed bricks around the edge and padded with soil. This way the fire was controlled more due to wind breezes.

I think it’s healthy to have a fire to feel the natural heat and see the flames burning. I find this was quite relaxing and therapeutic. This gave me an insight to how life was with out central heating. Discussion kept the night awake and brought friendships closer. Sausages and chicken drumsticks were then cooked shortly after the flames died down which gave of immense heat due to how the fire was dug.

Garden update 16/3/09

Before starting my horticulture course last year I had decided to make improvements to my garden due to me moving home. There was tons of rubbish to be cleared and maintenance to the building block that had to be carried out.

Now, in my second year living in my accommodation, my garden is turning out to how I want it to be.

There are still additional features which I’m refining, plants to be planted and things to build.

Last year i left the garden to see how the space naturally adapted and grew. I now have more of an idea how my garden space will turn out over the summer. Convolvulus grows vigorously in the garden so I have to maintain and control the overgrown weeds. I have managed to create a stone brick feature and I’ve started to collect wood for a feature for my back fence. Rhubarb has been planted as well as chives, sea holly, heather and strawberry plants.

I am continuing to develop my space and wanting to build some additional seats and to make the garden space more secluded.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

The Town Hall Birmingham Exhibition

The event at the town hall was a success. A range of different artists had displayed work ranging from contemporary Abstract fine art, sculpture, textiles and illustrative works. Performers of all age ranges took part in singing dancing and spoken word.

Photos will be upload soon
further infomation on http://www.edgbastonone.org/

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Horticulture File


February 1st. created blogspot site and uploaded images for Horticulturefile. A documentary of the works which relate to the development of garden projects.