Friday, December 28, 2007

December Sunsets:

After a plethora of Christmas Trees, I feel like a change: so here are some Trees and Sunsets from recent walks by Santa Monica Bay……

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Tree: The Grove

The day after Christmas- Boxing Day- I went to The Grove and here is their Christmas Tree with the Dancing Fountains in the foreground:

The Grove

Christmas Eve: 2

My daughter, Molly, was brought up with a silver, tinsel Christmas Tree- bought in a London market when I was pregnant with her,together with two boxes of glass baubles. As the years went by, the decorations increased dramatically. Having a passion for these exquisite, brightly coloured glass fantasies, each Christmas I would buy more as presents for Molly and her father Phil. After twenty odd years, every inch of the tree was embellished so that it took on the appearance of a rich Byzantine Mosaic.

Using some of these inherited ornaments, on Christmas Eve- my birthday- Molly decided to turn her kitchen Fan into a wonderful Venetian-like Chandelier for my birthday celebrations. It therefore symbolized the tree of the past but had morphed into something very pertinent to the present (fortunately, although a sunny day, we did not need to use the fan!). She used vintage garlands, bought from both Shabby Chic, Santa Monica, and ABC Carpet and Home, New York.

Shabby Chic

ABC Carpet and Home

Christmas Eve: 1

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Ficus Trees again...

Who'd believe it, surfing the Web for "Ficus Trees", I now learn that you can buy ARTIFICIAL FICUS CHRISTMAS TREES- even SILK ones! So if the Santa Monica City Council do go against the Citizen's wishes and uproot 54 of the trees on 2nd and 4th Streets, they will have a solution for their Christmas Lights next year.....

My Christmas Tree

....and this year I decided upon a both Minimalist and Real Tree lit by a Real Candle....

Tree from:Rolling Greens Nursery

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Trees

When a child I was brought up on organic Christmas Trees- sometimes Spruces and sometimes just a Crab Apple branch with the apples still on it. Always they were lit with magic real candles, fitted into little tin holders that seldom stayed vertical on the branches- now they would be considered an impossible fire hazard, which I’m sure they were. Decorations were often home-made- by me and my brother- out of plasticene or wax plus a number of Woolworth’s beautiful pre-second-world-war glass balls and elegant, art-deco birds.

However, having already shown the Ficus trees being used for Christmas decorations, I am choosing a very urban tree as an example of a Santa Monica Christmas Tree.

This is to be found in the Edgemar complex off Main Street, a very user-friendly mini-mall designed by Frank Gehry in the 1980’s. To complement the deconstructive architecture, for the last 11 years the Lighting Designer Anthony Schmitt has built his tree out of Shopping Carts. He wanted to reflect the aluminum trees of the 60’s and to represent both the homeless people of Santa Monica (the Cart being their symbol) and the consumers.

This year the tree is constructed out of 83 carts and is 33’ high. It blends into its surroundings very well and has its own kind of magic.

See "Edgemar Christmas Tree" below:
Frank Gehry

Edgemar Christmas Tree

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Happy Christmas Ficus Trees: 1

Well, Santa Monica City Council may not love the Ficus Trees – although, being a “Tree City USA”, they keep protesting that they DO love them– but they certainly make use of them. There is something both ironic and tragic about seeing these innocent trees displaying the Christmas Lights on 2nd and 4th Streets, knowing that the Council wants to chop them down as soon as possible…..

Working for Treesavers has been an enlightening experience for me. Coincidentally, when I returned here in October, one of my aims was to become more involved with the community. . Visual Art can often be a very solitary pursuit- which, for myself, I regard as unhealthy. Petitioning on the streets is endlessly rewarding- most people you speak to love and appreciate the trees. Only rarely you get the comment “I HATE Ficus trees”.

On January 14th the Landmarks Commission will decide whether the trees are worthy of being ‘Landmarked’, in which case they would be protected to some degree. We have to present the Commission with proof that the trees fulfill certain designated criteria.

We must be confident that both Treesavers and the Community can save the Ficus’- we cannot allow these Christmas Lights to be their final Crowning Glory!


Happy Christmas Ficus Trees: 2

Friday, December 14, 2007

Ficus Trees: 2

As an Artist, I was blown over by the wonderful avenues of trees in Santa Monica and decided I wanted to live here because of them. The Ficus, or “Green Gem” trees, I regard as one of the most beautiful. They are endlessly fascinating to draw, sculpt or photograph: one moment they can be perceived as elegant, multi-branched candelabra, the next as sensuous as human limbs- or part of an elephant’s body. The avenues are like a Gaudi interpretation of the Aisles of a Mediaeval church, with Fan Vaulting. I have included this tree in a series of Lightboxes that I am developing. More about that later.

You can imagine my dismay when I learned of Santa Monica City Council’s plans: to cull 2nd and 4th Streets of 54 of the magnificent Ficus trees- cutting down 23 of them (claiming them to be “decayed”) and re-locating 31 mature trees, unlikely to survive transplantation. Independent arborists believe possibly only 2 trees need attention. The plan is to replace them with slow-growing, deciduous Ginkgo trees that will never supply compatible eco benefits.

It appears to be a “design” project- to “beautify” the streets. The Council also complain of the roots destroying the sidewalks- but there is an answer to this right on our doorstep: Richard Valeriano- who was Santa Monica’s Senior Sidewalk Inspector- developed Rubber Sidewalk panels- using recycled rubber tires to produce a flexible, easy to maintain alternative to concrete. This system is now used in ten States.

On learning the Council’s plans, I immediately joined SANTA MONICA’S TREESAVERS- a fast growing group of Tree saving activists- including both Senior Citizens and High School kids. They are all intelligent citizens who actually realize that Global Warming is real and that trees are of enormous importance- especially large-canopied, evergreen Ficus Trees- absorbing carbon dioxide and other pollutants; emitting pure oxygen; supporting other forms of life; keeping the streets cooler; and, not least, raising the spirits of pedestrians with their beauty. Ficus Trees have even- ironically- been declared by the City’s own Forester as “The Champ” of Urban Trees.


Ficus Trees: 1

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Glimpses of the Fall:

This year I came away from the UK just when the trees were showing their first signs of Autumn colours. Here in Santa Monica, where most of the trees are evergreens, you just get little touches of the Fall. I go for endless city walks- always with my camera and always on the lookout for excitement, which I always get.

When I see so many beautiful sights, it is embarrassing to hear me returning to my daughter’s Playgroup days, humming to myself “if you’re happy and you know it clap your hands”.

I have included one UK image- Virginia Creeper from the City of Bath.

Fall in Santa Monica:

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

City Trees

I was born in a City (Edinburgh) and spent most of my adult life, from Art School onwards, in a City (London). However, in between my childhood was spent in the country and that was where I put down my roots- pun intended!

Rural England and Scotland became a huge part of who I am. Even though to this day I live in a city (Santa Monica) I am still a Country person: “JUST AS THE TWIG IS BENT SO THE TREE’S INCLINED”.

Trees are immensely important, especially in towns where- apart from people- they can sometimes be ones only organic contact.

When I moved into my first own home in London, I planted a conker for my daughter Molly in our small back garden. This conker was from a Horse Chestnut Tree- or “Conker Tree”- that I had grown from a conker when I was a child, living on the Malvern Hills. It grew magnificently.

The roots of a Sycamore Tree, right by the house, were unfortunately damaging our neighbour’s foundations and, to my sorrow, it had to be cut down. However, a miracle happened: as in a Fairy Story, almost overnight, a Gean Tree (Wild Cherry) appeared in its stead- presumably sown by a bird.

These two trees gradually took over the garden, turning it into a glade but providing enormous pleasure- both visually and environmentally- for about 25 years. All the Seasons were played out in that little back yard: in the Spring you could not dream of anything more beautiful than the Gean covered in a cloud of white blossom, obscuring the kitchen window- or the excitement of watching the sticky buds of the Conker tree gradually unfurling to produce magnificent candle-like flowers and the most beautifully designed palmate leaves, made up of 5-7 leaflets. In Summer we ate the cherries and in Autumn the Gean turned lemon yellow, the Conker burnished gold and conkers covered the ground.

Woodland Garden

Conker leaves and Gean Blossom