Orchard

Orchard, a year in England’s Eden was one of the most capturing books to be published in 2020.

A collaboration between two authors: Benedict Macdonald and Nicholas Gates. Both are naturalists, both have penned articles for top rate environmental publications including National Geographic and both have created content for BBC and ITV including David Attenborough’s  Our Planet.

In parallel this book is also a collaboration of literary styles. Where fiction meets factual content. The pleasure, passionate language and winding narrative of literary fiction used to articulate the evolution of nature through the Orchard. Where to place it on the book shelf? Unsure, so were all the major booksellers. Anywhere from science and technology to gardening, wildlife to birdwatching. 

A third collaboration is present, the partnership between man and nature. The Orchard is unravelled through the course of a year. We have home building and nesting through the plethora of life during the summer months. Penultimately, the endeavours of harvest, concluding with hibernation and return of the harshest of climates.

Some Quotes

It projects with its boughs, an ark of animals now almost impossible to find living side by side elsewhere in our dying countryside.
(Also refers to religion and environment)

A disused farm gate, bound by twine and locked by ivy.

Beast from the East
(Reference to UK storm of 2018)

Molehill: the newly erected earthen pyramid.

Blackbird gangs

The orchards’ fungal and beetle armies have already colonised this new barracks.

Clownfish
(Previously animated for the classic Bedknobs and broomsticks)

Ancestral hedge-lines

Goats willow

Oaks bubble with resurgent leaves. Their crushed, dead skeletons transform into chlorophyll cathedrals.

Spotted flycatcher (Bird)

Hover flies

Rhinoceros beetles are unmistakable. With a single horn this metallic black beetle looks like a tiny triceration dinosaur. As they bulldoze their way into pea sized breeding tunnels to lay their own eggs.

Microhabitats

Male stag beetle, size of a matchbox

Black veined whites (Butterflies)

Horse shoe bats

Elephant hawk moths

The damage of the snail army is hard to detect. Here in the orcharch, snails are slow moving refugees.

Sawflies- Saw like genitalia are used to cut through leaves.

Chiffchaff next

Sex-crazed wood pigeons

When spider webs unite, they can tie down a lion. (African Proverb)

Crane fly

Leather jackets (crane fly larvae)

I follow the fresh crane flies as they clumsily bounce off anything and everything, accompanied by the sound of autumnal apple leaves decaying, grass seed stalks whispering in the light night breeze.

But now, the walnut orb spider brazenly waits out in the open poised at the centre of her silken telephone; eight legs listening alert. Her abdomen is stencilled with ribbed pattern of a perfectly symmetrical.

To attract a lady, male walnut orb weavers strut their stuff with some impressive dance moves. His routine starts with percussion: raising both her front legs in the air and frequently drumming her web to signal his arrival.

Green fanged tube web spider

The cider house donkey of Yore

Leave them to sweat (Apples)

Cuckoo haunted willow.

The bees argue in their black ball. A flying hedgehog, all prickles. (Quoted from Sylvia Plath)

Nest raiding jays

In a salmon coloured flash it (Jay) bounds across the golden apple carpet.

It has been found that ivy creates a thermal blanket, its shiny leaves insulating its internal reaches against the cold.

Ivy bees

If one plant wired into the orchards fungal broadband, the others, will immediatly begin their chemical release.

Fungal morse code system of enormous complexity.


Glouster Old Spot- the orchards pig.





Published in August 2020 during the first summer of the pandemic. A period when many had begun to rediscover nature during our governed one hour of exercise. Staycations were the norm while much of international travel was put on hold. 

A worthy winner of the Jefferies Society and White Horse’ book prize for nature writing. A book which does not simply enable engagement with nature: it emerces you deeply into the natural undergrowth of Herefords finest ancient Orchard.

2 Years

Easter marks two years of Dave’s passing, an early victim of covid 19. Alison, his partner writes this poem to mark the occasion.

2 years

2 years since our last handclasp

2 years of pandemic passed

2 years, your death broadcast

2 years, of living steadfast


===News Flash===


Russia invaded Ukraine

Putin’ dictators brain

Claims of being insane

World War 3? to ascertain


Ukrainians stood hearty strong

Maripol, besieged month long

Kieve fought, Russia retreated hourlong

Mines left in corpses, the Slavic song


===Sports News===


Details of the footy, you await

LFC on top, but don’t inflate

Man City may accelerate

Chelsea not far, a little belate’


Outcry, with my blue team!

Abramovitch’ metal, Russian tanks gleam

Oligarch wealth extracted, the bloodstream

Chelsea, for sale, the Bridge beam’


Gerrard gains, Villa mid table

Lamps for Everton, not the same fable

Religation, sat above, unstable

Form, quite directly: abysmal


===Home News===


Myself, retraining Media City

Daily zoom sessions, the web community

Match of the Day filmed hyper activity

Shakespeare North, applying, locality


A family of rodents took up house!

I screamed, in scurried a mouse

Could not call you from the alehouse

Austin patrolled, you amiss, my spouse


1 caught, adhered to a board

Then a second explored

Another 2 same fate award’

1 remained, not the same accord


Front bedroom trapped

Ambush spring bound, baited

Bait taken, the vermin lapped

Poison dispose as it napped


A week, still taking, metallic spoils

Then, no more did it coil

Over was our toil

No longer sleeping in turmoil


2 years apart

Some ways, a new start

Remain top of my heart

Love, no need a jumpstart!

Alison Little

Owl and the Pussy Cat

The Aviary, submission for the Owl and the Pussy Cat public arts trail, Knowsley 2022

The Aviary

The Aviary design looks to depict the large collection of birds which the 13th Earl of Derby held within his menagerie. With over 300 species of rare and valuable birds his collection was considered one of the most extensive and impressive in Europe. During the 1850’s he commissioned the young Edward Lear to paint many of the birds, the exotic parrots in particular. 

The design uses a pea green backing tone relating to the boat from the Owl and the Pussy Cat poem. Equally, the colour green was a must have shade during the mid Victorian era. Partially due to candle light being replaced by gas burners allowing for the visual qualities of the colour to be viewed in a greater level. Secondly, a new tone of green had been developed in Germany by adding arsenic to colour pigment. This led to the poisoning of mainly production workers and by the 1870’s the process had been abandoned. However, green remained a fashionable Victorian shade which utilized pigments from safer sources.

The birds depicted on the design relate to the 318 species once reared at Knowsley Hall. Many of Lear’ illustrations are used as source material, others are images of species which were likely to be present within the collection. A focus has been taken on exotic birds, parrots in particular, located at pivotal points on the surface of the owl. A botanical illustration style has been adopted, realism core to the presentation. Often portrayed from a direct side elevation, semi-diagrammatic to convey a visual understanding from a natural history perspective.

Equally, the Aviary, relates to the contemporary Knowsley Safari Park which evolved from the much earlier menagerie. The birds of prey housed at the Safari Park could potentially be added to the design. Other aspects of environmental concern to identify with the decline of the Barn Owl with the region and the UK as a whole. This is mainly due to urbanisation and a reduction of grassland areas.

The Avery, a design which can delight, inform and bring splendor to the Borough of Knowsley.

Alison Little

Unfortunately, Alison was unsuccessful with her submission but will continue to apply for similar commissions.

Forest Island

Forest Island

Not much of a gamer?

Played a bit of Pac Man and Tetris in your younger days?

Snake used to pass the time on outstretched train journeys?

Forest Island is the game for you!

A feel good game which relaxes and takes away your daily stresses. Easy to download to your phone or tablet. Fundamentally simple, great for that wind down spot after dinner and the currently so depressingly deadly evening news. A small slot of 5 or 10 minutes of video gaming the slow paced way before the drama’s of the soaps take to the screen.

Refreshing greenery of the ever-growing forest combines with white sands and calming stillness of the ocean. A simple game, no instructions required, clip on hearts and gems with your finger tips. You gradually build your island with a bear cave and deer meadow coming at more advanced stages. Collected hearts and gems are used to acquire further creatures and landscaping features. Additional structures and animals are easy to purchase from the store for a minimal fee. 

The downsides, there are a few: mainly, slightly lengthy to download. Secondly, it really is one for the girls! We have the feminine delights of bunny rabbits giving off hearts in multiples. 

A great minimal commitment game which will take the stresses out of your day.

Download now!

https://apkmody.io/games/forest-island

Address Colonialism

Address Colonial was a proposal submitted from Alison Little for the Baltic Triangle area of Liverpool to the Liverpool Bid Company.

Address: Colonialism

The Mural

Address: Colonialism mural to be located within the sea fearing location of the Baltic Triangle. Within the artwork we look to address Britains Colonial past and to hold ourselves culpable for the violations of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. We highlight the real professions in which two of the streets are named after: Slave Traders.

Liverpool Slave Trade

Liverpool lay at the heart of Britains slave trade between West Africa and the Americas. Largely due to the location, the city took over the Capital: London and the Southern port of Bristol. The North West location allowed ships to sail North around Northern Ireland and avoid the frequent sea battles between Britain and the Continent. The Port of Liverpool endorsed the ships to be conveniently stocked with goods to be traded in West Africa: Textiles from Lancashire, ceramics, brass and copper from Staffordshire and Cheshire. Other advantages were the proximity to the Isle of Man, a prominent tax haven of the day. Vessels would set sail, brimming with cargo, then trade for the human commodity of the enslaved African. Sail for the Americas was the next tangent of the triangular route. The helpless captives were then reciprocated to plantation owners for goods such as tobacco, sugar and cotton. Derminetta sugar was particularily prosperous within the Carribean, a foundation crop of the slave trade. It is estimated that around 40% of the Global trans-Atlantic slave trade passed through Liverpool during the seventeenth and eighteenth century. 

Many of the enslaved did not survive the voyage to the Americas, death onboard was commonplace. Over the two centuries in which slave trade was at its peek over 1 Million Africans are said to have been drowned in the Atlantic. Life for slaves was brutal, life expectancies of thsoe being traded to the plantation owners were often as low as 7 years. 

Sexual violence towards enslaved women was rife, mixed race heritage children were previlent. The children of the bonded also became the property of the owner and often separated from their parents. Rape of  women by there masters was trite, particularly on the plantations. The process began on the auction slab, the slave stripped naked and oiled for all to view. Poked, then prodded, the errotic nature of this process was unavoidable with African women. During the nineteenth century, white women were idealised as pure, almost to the extent of being austere. In harsh contrast, black women were considered to be hypersexual. Slave Masters viewed their women as their property, although most were taken by force there were also the concubines. Although willing participants in sexual activity with their masters, they were not ‘Free’ to make that choice in the way women who are unrestricted.

Slave law was brutal, extended whipping were matter-of-coarse, pregancy was no barrier, slave masters digging holes to accoumodate the womens bump to allow thrashing without harming the baby. Those who tried to escape were shackled. The process of heat branding on the face was a frequent punishment for those who had tried to abscond. Many rebellions took place in the name of freedom. The ring leaders were often executed and their corpses hung up for all to view. 

Slave ownership was widespread within Britain and a large cluster encircled Liverpool. Most commonly investments had been made to own slaves based within the colonies. After a massive campaign led by William Wilberforce     slave ownership was abolished in 1832. Many slave owners were of the upper middle class and aristocratic class. They were greatly represented within parliament, at the time of abolition there were 32 slave owners serving as peirs within the House of Lords. This led to one of the most significant compensation payouts within the history of the British Government excluding any mounting payouts relating to the ongoing pandemic. However, the reparations did not go to the enslaved as compensation for the hardship they had endured, funds when to the slave owners for the financial loss they had incurred. 

The Baltic Triangle

The Baltic Triangle itself deplays many links to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Its location adjacent to the Old Dock when many of the ships moored is evident. Jamaica Street, a main artery running through the area, alined with warehouses built to store the goods to be traded Globally. 

Address: Colonialism looks to highlight two major streets within the vicinity: Blundell and New Bird Street. Both streets were named after prominent Liverpool Merchants, both were named after serving Liverpool Mayors, both were named after key members of the Africa Company of Merchants and both were named after Slave Traders. 

Bryan Blundell (1675-1756) was prolific with Liverpool Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Setting sail as a cabin boy at the age of twelve he became skilled in seafaring, spearheading the potential for vessels to be built more economically within Virginia. Captaining the Mulberry which transported indentured workers to Virginia. More proliffically, the sole owner of the Tarleton which shipped over 200 slaves from the Gold Coast to Barbados. His sons and descendants benefited from his ill gotten wealth throughout the 18th Century. Standing as the Mayor of Liverpool twice and was jointly responsible for establishing the Bluecoat school.  After the BLM protests of 2020 the Bluecoat school, now based in Wavertree received a petition curated by former pupils from the name Blundell to be removed from the institution. The Bistro and one of the house names were replaced, however a portrait and memorial stone for Blundell remain as educational tools. In our chronicles he is often described as being a philanthropist or a tobacco Merchant, the blackness of slave trading mislaid.

Equally, Alderman Joseph Bird was a slave trader and former Mayor. The original Bird Street was located between James Street and Redcross Street adjacent to the Strand.  After demolition the ‘So called’ honour was given to New Bird Street. 

The Mural

The mural is to be sited within the Baltic Triangle. The intension is to create the two street names to appear to have been branded, as were the slaves who endeaved to abscond. The backing is to be a straightforward black masonry paint, encompassed around a fluorescent white acrylic paint over the negative space of the road sign representations. The reflective qualities of the white paint will allow the mural to be visible after nightfall. 

The maral surface to be subdegated by neon signage crossing through ‘Blundell’ and ‘Bird’ to display ‘ Slave Tradesr’. Red neon to be selected, utilising a  hand written style typeface to create the illusion of a school teacher correcting an error in red biro. 

The main painting of the mural to be conducted by the artist: Alison Little, scaffold to be hired from a Bootle based company. Neon signage to be manufactured and fired by a preferably Liverpool based firm. 

Environmental Considerations

Masonry paint to look at being Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) free as this is problematic for those suffering from asthma and prone to allergies. Lakeland is VOC free and produced in nearby Lancashire would be an obvious selection. ECO Pro Silicate would be another option as this is a mineral based paint. Main objectives would be to only buy as much as required to avoid waste. Bushes to be wiped free of paint before cleaning. Any leftover paint to  have either dry soil, sand or sawdust added, then to be disposed of at the nearest recycle centre, potentially Old Swan with a dedicated paint disposal facility. 

Acrylic artists paints can be harmful to the environment as they release toxins as they dry. Rinsing brushes in sinks leads to microplastics entering the ecosystem, which are potentially cancer causing. Additional paint can be plastic wrapped and stored in an available fridge to reduce wastage. Again brushes to be wiped free from paint before washing avoiding any sinks. To look into the potential of Natural earth paints, however Winsor and Newton are a viable option as they look at reusing water in their manufacturing processes. 

Neon was once considered to be harmful to the environment, however all modern manufacturers use LED lights which are extremely energy efficient. Potential to look at ‘Liverpool Neon’ as a local firm to manufacture and fit the signage. 

Address: Colonialism mural does not necessarily demand the streets of Blundell and New Bird to be renamed, but it corrects any misconceptions. We brand them righteously as slave traders and not as philantropists or tobacco merchants. We correct the history books and we acknowledge the wrongs of colonialism.

This is an extremely relevant issue, The Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests which took place Globally in 2020 are still current news. The toppling of the statue of the slave trader Conolston in Bristol and the resent acquittal of the Conalston four was an early hearing of 2022. 

Modern day slavery, is still a contemporary issue within Britain and Globally. It is estimated that their are 40 million people trapped in modern slavery Globally, 4 times the numbers of those enslaved on the Trans-Atlantic route. Many of these are women and children, debt bonded or enforced early marriage modern day issues. People trafficking is widespread, the loss of 22 Asylum seekers within the channel in October a recent reminder. However in today’s society, people traffickers are not commemorated with streets being named after them, they are sought to be prosecuted. The four traffickers responsible for the death of  39 Vietnamese migrants through suffocation       were given lengthy custodial  sentences not immortalised with a statue in the way of Conalson in Bristol. 

Now, within Liverpool the time is right to acknowledge the atrocities of the Empire. In the same was as Germany has built memorials to the victims of the Holocaust, we need public realm art which will commemorate the victims of the Colonial era. Akin to the Titanic memorial in Belfast commemorates the 1,500 lost at sea, we need to commemorate the 1 million enslaved Africans who drowned crossing the Atlantic.

Address Colonialism: the time is now and the place is Liverpool.

Although Liverpool Bid Company where positive towards the proposal she was unsuccessful on this occasion, however she will be applying for similar commissions in the future.

Gratitude Jar


So, after an awe inspiring session with positive psychologist Alice Beveridge     I have taken the uplifting step of creating a gratitude jar. In this, I re-purposed a beetroot jar, by adding  paper circles. The beautifully flowered yellow papers were casings for Sainsburys lemon and ginger tea. The next step was to adorn with treats of the liquorice allsort variety. The intention being to take a sweet everytime a comment is dropped into the jar. Christmas week being the ideal time to open and read through the comments reflecting on the year passed.

Then, the challenge began, I started to address all I am grateful for, here goes:


Pizza

+ Pizza with extra meat feast toppings including lashings and lashings of pepperoni.

A pot of tea in the morning: the luxury of a two cup pot brewing awakening assam to start the day.

My imperfections: the way my breasts never grew to the size of Pamela Andersons, which myself and every other 90’s school girl felt was necessary to be considered even remotely attractive. Reminiscing of seeing Lily James cast as Pammy, I languish over how awful she looks in comparison to the leading lady she played in the Pursuit of Love and Cinders in the ever re-told classic tale of Cinderella. 

Then to my accomplishments: graduating from art school, my first art commission and peeing on a copper. Yes, after a drunken night out, staying in an Australian Youth Hostel and sleeping on the top bunch. There is still a Police report about the golden shower the Police woman sleeping below myself received. And, of course I apologised…..

Te He…..!

The time I had with Dave before he was lossed to covid. The laughs, the jokes and the fun we had. Still having both my parents on speed dial, neither have succumbed to covid. Her Majesty, although down with the dreaded virus, certainly not out and making a fair recovery. Vaccinations against Covid, booster jabs and that there will be more booster jabs.

Being able to draw, create and indulge in all forms of art while exercising my extensive imagination. In being diverse and living in a community and time period where this is accepted.

The ‘I have a Dream’ speech which Martin Luther King gave in full glory.

Not being a senior Tory MP and continually having to explain what parties I attended at number 10 during lockdown. 

In having read ‘Girl A’, a beyond amazing book, a debut novel published only last year. The fun I will have trying to find out if Abigail Dean, the author, is genuinely into bondage. 


Auto save on computers

Spell check

Email

TV streaming

Apps for everything

Social media and my Mum being on Facebook

Inside toilets…….


The NHS: clap for carers may have been during the first wave of the pandemic, but they are still struggling on and providing the best care possible.

My yard: an afternoon sun trap which got me through the worst days of lockdown.

The Future

And that, I have a future..

The walking holiday I am planning to take the dog on in the late spring. Loch Lomond bound for days of long meandering and evenings of camp fires.



What are you grateful for?

Can anyone beat peeing on a copper as an achievement?

Start your Gratitude Jar.

World Gymnastics Championship

The World Gymnastics Championships are due to be held in Liverpool, autumn 2022. Alison Little submitted a medal design, however she was unsuccessful, however she is looking forward to seeing the winning submission cast in Gold.

Below is an extract from her proposal.

Medal Design

World Gymnastics Championship, Liverpool 2022

A design which will celebrate the gymnastic athletes which are being brought on a Global scale to the city of Liverpool. The famed landmark of the Liver building to become a pommel horse and floor platform.

Gymnastics, the preeminent sport in developing physical ability and coordination. Balance, strength, flexibility, athletes become scorpions of flight through their performance. A dedication to a sport which originated with the Spartans in Greece to prepare men for war. Taken forth by the Romans, then permeating throughout Europe and over to the USA from the later years of the eighteenth century. The men’s competition being included in the first modern Olympic Games, the women’s entering forthwith in the 1920’s as the equality demands of first wave feminism transcended the Globe. The modern sport of artistic gymnastics presents expertise in: uneven and parallel bars, the floor, rings, the all important balance beam, finishing off with the pommel and vaulting horses.

A medal which will authentically reflect the dexterity and devotion essential to achieving winning status. The design aims to replicate the origins of a disk shape, coin-like form. Utilizing the ribbon to be worn through the traditional mode, to be bestowed then sported on the athlete as a token of the training and diligence which has led to vast accomplishment.

The design transforms the Liver building into a pommel horse and stage for floor performance. The male athlete takes the handle of the pommel demonstrating scissor leg movement. The female athlete performs a dance move from a floor routine, displaying skills of balance and artistry. Although attractive the female athlete is not sexualised, at the peak of physical fitness but evidently an athlete and not an objectified symbol of lust. Eluding any association with the term ‘Gymnastics’ which means to perform naked and recent controversies around sexualisation of British female gymnasts.

The Royal Liver Building to represent the port city of Liverpool. A major landmark since its construction in the early twentieth century. A grade I listed building, encompassing thirteen stories, sited in a key position on the iconic waterfront at Pier Head. We look to witness the athletes fly, but not the Liver Birds: Bella and Bertie. The fable tells of how if the birds were to fly off the city would cease to exist.

An outer edge to be created, inside we look to replicate a rim of chalk used on hands and feet by gymnasts. In design this looks to emulate the notion of raw, unworked metal ore within the design. Introducing a craft element to CNC production techniques. The medals will be produced using CNC for mold making then die cast. To the rear of the medal the Federation of International Gymnastics (FIG) logo to be engraved. Additional engraving to be added to the side of the medal commemorating the event:

‘World Gymnastics Championships, Liverpool 2022’

When using gold the manufacturing process to ensure that mercury is not used in purification as this can poison eco systems. Potential for reclaimed mirrors to be used within the silver edition. Bronze to be widely utilized, particularly for the supporters medal. Further possibilities for gilding and plating to be explored using non-precious metals. Conceivably a variation of size between Gold, Silver and bronze. The intention of the supporters token is to be the medal without any hanging methodology and to be presented boxed.

Aesthetically, the hanging ribbon is positioned towards the rear edge of the medal. The use of weave technique, incorporating the FIG logo within the weave. Berisford woven ribbon manufacturers based in Congleton are local manufacturers, minimising environmental impact and supporting the regional economy.

A design which can truly celebrate gymnastics on a global stage from the city of Liverpool. The Royal Liver Building, an iconic of Liverpool standing tall within the medal. Two athletes of calabre, through the male we champion strength and ability, the female reflects grace and elegance.

A medal worthy of the sporting success it honours.

Alison Little


https://www.2022worldgymnastics.com/

It’s my Life

House of Smalls is an art space, created and co-ordinated by the far reaching fine artist Amy Oliver. It was conceived as a response to lock down, established galleries had been forced to close their doors to the public, a full return to normality not yet a reality within the creative sector. Opening in November 2020 it offers an affordable, female centric venue able to present digital exhibitions to a Global audience.

a single dolls house became a street of 3 galleries

What was initially a single dolls house became a street of 3 galleries. Since opening it has hosted 6 group shows with physical works from 145 countries from 18 countries. They are currently based in a small village in Wiltshire. 

It’s my Life is the 7th group show opening on Saturday the 29th of January 2022. 40 artists have submitted works around the theme of medication and self medication encompassing themes of dependence and addiction.

Flox presents a random outlay of fluoxetine tablets jotted onto the chemist’s prescription

Alison Little’ Flox is featured in the imminent Its my Life exhibition. A collection of art made on receipts from purchases made by Alison of the later stages of the pandemic. In this she had scribbled speedy depictions of the items purchased on their shop receipts. Flox presents a random outlay of fluoxetine tablets jotted onto the chemist’s prescription. Fluoxetine is a common antidepressant, its usage became widespread during the global health crisis.

https://www.thehouseofsmalls.art/

A lovely loo!

The loo – to some a little insignificant room within your larger domain. To your bladder it’s a lifeline, the only room that matters to your bowls.

What makes a lovely loo?

Hand painted touches displaying flowers and the splendour of spring.
Real foliage, plants which will bloom and disguise any smell.
Lavish quantities of hand soaps, creams and lotions

Freshly painted walls bring cleanliness to the lav environment.
Ceramics from the continent, bring back the spirit of your summer holiday.
A mass of cleaning products ready to deal with daily bathroom dramas.
Most importantly, oodles and oodles of lavish loo roll. Not breaking the ethics of stockpiling prevailed during the early days of the pandemic.

Follow these steps to get a lav you adore, not a WC you abore!