On one of our trips to the UK I found out that London has thousands and thousands of secret gardens. A passerby usually stays unaware of their existence because they’re surrounded by those lovely semi-detached toy-like victorian houses with bright-colored doors and stoops.
I was lucky enough to have a friend living in one of these houses with a garden in the south of London, away from daily London’s sightseeing hustle. First of all it’s not just one garden, they’re an eco system of several connected gardens. With cats paying daily visits to the neighbors, with huge grey squirrels jumping from tree to tree. With raspberry bushes spilling over the neighboring fences. And foxes. There are fiery red foxes chilling in those gardens, living under sheds, hunting birds and tiny garden animals. When I first found myself in that wild oasis in the city I fell in love. Ok, it was not like I got to Narnia through a wardrobe, but it was pretty damn close.
I also loved the fact that the garden was so untamed, there were no pretty roses and the furniture saw better times, the stones were covered with moss and the bushes were treading upon the house. And that house. One day I’ll tell you more about it, or better yet write a book. There is definitely something about that house that makes your fantasy bloom and your creative juices flow.
But back to the garden, it reminded me so much of Maurice Sendak’s “Wild Things” and I felt like letting the rumpus begin. Unfortunately you can’t start a rumpus in a garden that is not yours. Well you can, but most probably you’re not gonna be welcome there again. So instead I talked my beautiful friend Valeria into a photoshoot.
I wanted to create calligraphic props reflecting the wilderness of the place. So I painted the ferns with broad calligraphic nibs and watercolor and picked a modern “unbrushed” pointed pen script for the lettering part.
I thought if you’d be celebrating your wild self, that wild self hidden from the superficial touristic eye behind a pretty brick facade, how would your invitations look like?
We were very lucky with the weather, as in October in London you never know when it might start raining. The fire foxes had their fox business elsewhere so unfortunately you won’t see them. But the grass was still green and the light was that perfect diffused slightly golden autumnal light that makes the shadows softer and lets the human skin have that beautiful glow.
Persian poet, theologian and Sufi mystic Rumi once said:
Beauty surrounds us, but usually we need to be walking in a garden to know it.
And he was absolutely right. After London shared this well kept secret with me I started to see this city’s elusive beauty.