What Has Been Gathered Will Disperse
In an age when environmental issues were largely unpopular the naturalist Dr. Ted Ellis championed the complex interdependency of the natural world. From 1928 to 1956 he held the position Keeper of Natural History at the Castle Museum, Norwich. Through his regular columns in the Eastern Daily Press, in addition to the Guardian, he emphasized the need to preserve the diversity and richness of the Norfolk Fens and Marshes.
For the larger part of his life he devoted himself to the scientific study of Wheatfen Broad. From 1946 onwards he lived with his family in the remote cottage at Wheatfen, situated in Surlingham on the outer edges of the Broad. Here he developed the study of microscopic life forms and is credited with the discovery of many new British micro-fungi. Since his death in 1986 Wheatfen Broad has become a permanent nature reserve. An intimate part of this landscape is the garden at Wheatfen Cottage which has borne witness to a history of change and family continuity.
I first encountered this garden at Wheatfen shortly after moving to Norfolk almost seven years ago. I immediately felt a recognition of things past. I revisited the garden again and again for a year without my camera. It was enough for me just to walk around it and look. I started, tentatively, to make pictures there in December 1999. Phyllis and her family, offered me encouragement as I wandered, looked and made work in their space. As I got to know the garden so I got to know the family, and, they me. Many pictures resulted and each one represents my own relationship to a certain space whilst also charting its function as a working family garden. In this sense the images represent both a physical and metaphysical inquiry.
Throughout the time I spent there I had long admired the garden’s blossom and photographed it much. It became increasingly important to me because I felt it expressed a sense of hope. I wanted to make my last photographs hopeful as I don’t know if I will ever make pictures there again, or, if the garden will bring us all together once more.