We sat in an elegant, sparsely furnished room at Tintinhull, its dark panels, a blackening fall of rain and the murmur and flicker of Sue Palmer’s film keeping us from the garden outside.
Silent words, slow paced and shamelessly repetitive, appeared on the screen: rhythmic insistence on another garden that can no longer be visited or simply spelled out in words. Scraps: the baseline hum of bees; a distant voice, calling; the video camera momentarily re-animating meagre stills from a photographic past.
The next morning I woke to the sound of childhood holidays by the sea. I sensed their thrill under my skin even as I registered – not for the first time – the pebble drag and swish as workday traffic of an ordinary day.
In Flowers, where is the garden – a film that locates the now geographically unlocatable garden of Hadspen – Sue Palmer’s methodology is perhaps that of the dream. Her methods construct the condition of half-waking. Drugged by her sounds and rhythms, we see and sense for real, a garden lost to us in reality. And we cosset the lovely ache she has placed in our stomachs as we walk out of the dark room into the day.
Photo credit: Sue Palmer