Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Working Weekend at Hummelo


    A busy weekend in the Oudolf studio, sorting out pictures and final details for the book I am doing with Piet. I’ve written the text over the last few months, now its the all-important images. Neither of us can remember how many we can use for the book but we’ll sort that out later. There seem an extraordinary number of pictures that Piet constantly looks through on the computer, we have a lot to choose from. Piet’s design work is very intuitive, his mind and thought patterns move fast, my job is to slow things down and clothe key thoughts in words. There are no design secrets, as Piet wants everyone in gardening and landscape to know ‘how to do it’, so the book will have lots of plan excerpts, and we are hoping we can find a way to put the whole plans online or make them available somehow to people who’ve bought the book.
    So, the endless ribbon of the New York High Line (note always to myself, not Highline) winds along the computer screen (a Mac of course), lots of projects in Netherlands now: waterfront in Rotterdam, some private gardens (good that the prophet is recognized in his own country) a park in Stockholm for public housing, a temporary planting at the Serpentine Gallery in London, for the Venice Biennale, a vast private garden on Nantucket. Ideas and new ways of combining plants constantly roll out onto big sheets of paper - there’s a discarded one from the pile by the studio woodstove on the windscreen of my car right now holding off the vicious Dutch frost. Ideas, ideas, ideas, plants, plants, plants. I have to find the words, words, words.


    This time I brought along Ye Hang and her husband Jingyu Cai. Ye is one of James Hitchmough’s doctoral students from Sheffield. She wants to translate our books into Chinese, but she has turned out to be so much more, a real third member of the team on picture selection. She has a good eye and is not afraid to speak her mind, the three of us take votes on pictures sometimes and take turns out-voting each other. Piet clearly thinks she is good and its nice to see him listening to her suggestions. Ye is the confident, creative, ambitious, commercial few face of China, full of plans for what she wants to do: a landscape company to do naturalistic planting, teaching, even a nursery in Jingyu’s home town on the North Korean border, where the local flora is apparently fantastic and hardly explored.

view from the kitchen in the annex, Piet took this shot with Pro HDR app on an iphone which enables you to combine 2 shots taken with different light settings so we get to see the view and the remnants of breakfast

    The Oudolf studio is a new brick building, lovely high ceilings, plenty of light and space. There are some additional rooms, which can accommodate guests like us if need be, and a little kitchen - all very much like our own annex building in concept but contemporary rather than eco-. The room I’m staying in has some of Piet and Anja’s collection of Bloomsbury group ceramics and a wonderful Caucasian rug I remember Piet getting as payment of a job many years ago.


    The studio is increasingly becoming inhabited by ‘designer toyz’  - limited edition characters inspired by graffiti, comix, manga and other manifestations of urban street art. A whole new world to me. Its as if here, in the quiet and open countryside of eastern Holland they represent the gritty urban reality of the NYC and Chicago streets where Piet’s planting projects make a real green impact. I half wonder if they come alive when we turn the lights out.


9 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a fascinating weekend!! It s great to know that Ye is doing so well! Beside being talented she is such a nice person.
Love to all of you,
Amalia Robredo

scottweberpdx said...

Another book...what a treat! I'm still pouring over Landscapes In Lanscapes...so the prospect of another volume of Piet's gardens will be a treat to look forward to!

carolyn mullet said...

Noel, This is a wonderful peek into the bookmaking process. So nice to be let on the inside for a bit. I know the final product will be a feast of images and ideas. Thanks.

alberto said...

I'm pleased to hear your guys are working on a new book because I never have enough. The idea of sharing Oudolf's plans and pictures online is amazing and I really hope you will! Good job!

Anne said...

Nice to know there's another book in the making. Liked the commemt about Piet wanting everyone to use his methods. I'm doing all I can to bring forward his methods to the people I teach, his approach when it comes to using grasses and perennials is simple, easy and obviuos. It makes total sense The more material the better.

Elspeth said...

Interesting insight. Loving the fact Piet collects those toys!

LHawthorn said...

Having plans available to download for buyers sounds like a great step forward. It must be possible as I was able to do something quite similar with a knitting book, Little Red in the City. It's self published, I believe, by Ysolda Teague if you wanted to follow up on the idea.

Anonymous said...

Excellent news! I was hoping that piet would do another book soon, can't wait. When can we expect this to be released?

Karen, Toronto said...

I visited Battery Park this fall and will get to the High Line next time I'm in New York. Monarchs on toadlilies. What a beautiful sight. Thank you for Landscapes. Can't wait for more inspiration.