Author Archives: JesseJames

About JesseJames

JesseJames are artists based in Dublin

Moonlit Gardening

The Distance of the Moon – Ink on Paper by James Moore

“The moon looks upon many night flowers; the night flowers see but one moon.”- Jean Ingelow

One of the more fascinating things that we discovered lately is that for hundreds of years people have been planting their plants and vegetables depending on where the moon is in its cycle.

For example, they would plant annual flowers and fruit and vegetables that bear crops above ground (such as tomatoes, and courgettes, peas) during the waxing of the Moon, that is from the day the Moon is new to the day it is full. As the moonlight increases each night, they believe plants are encouraged to grow leaves and stems.

During the waning of the Moon – from the day after it is full to the day before it is new again – gardeners would plant flowering bulbs, biennial and perennial flowers, and vegetables that bear crops below ground (such as onions, carrots, and potatoes – the kind of plants known as the nighshade family). As the moonlight decreases night by night, it was believed that plants are encouraged to grow roots, tubers, and bulbs.

The thinking behind Gardening by the Moon is that …just as the Moon’s gravitational pull causes tides to rise and fall, it also affects moisture in the soil – drawing it up to the top of the soil when it is a waxing moon. This causes seeds to swell, resulting in greater germination and better-established plants. When it is a waning moon the gravitational pull of the moon is lessened. The Earth’s gravity has a slightly stronger pull on the roots of plants which helps their downward growth.

Although no hard scientific evidence has been found to verify any of these claims, it is known that moonlight affects the leaf orientation of certain plants at night. Scientist Isabella Guerrini who works in the department of agriculture at the University of Perugia in Italy, has observed that sap flow in plants confirm that, indeed, fluid flows are …fuller, faster… as the moon becomes full, slowing down as the moon wanes. This, she explains, has important consequences for plant growth and pruning.

Making Land

On Inis Oírr,  islanders cleared stones and use them to fill crevices in the limestone pavement and to build walls to create enclosed areas. Sand and seaweed were harvested and spread to make land in these fields.

JesseJames make land by composting kitchen and garden waste, enhancing it with diluted human liquid waste, forking in air and water and leaving it to mature for around six months. JesseJames use the resulting compost to enhance the soil.

My whole life had been spent waiting for an epiphany, a manifestation of God’s presence, the kind of transcendent, magical experience that lets you see your place in the big picture. And that is what I had with my first [compost] heap – Bette Midler.

Image: JesseJames. Words: JesseJames.

will you come for an excursion to the Aran Isles this summer?

“O, Mr Conroy, will you come for an excursion to the Aran Isles this summer? We’re going to stay there a whole month. It will be splendid out in the Atlantic. You ought to come. Mr Clancy is coming, and Mr Kilkelly and Kathleen Kearney. It would be splendid for Gretta too if she’d come. She’s from Connacht, isn’t she?”

“Her people are,” said Gabriel shortly.

“But you will come, won’t you?” said Miss Ivors, laying her warm hand eagerly on his arm.

“The fact is,” said Gabriel, “I have just arranged to go——”

“Go where?” asked Miss Ivors.

“Well, you know, every year I go for a cycling tour with some fellows and so——”

“But where?” asked Miss Ivors.

“Well, we usually go to France or Belgium or perhaps Germany,” said Gabriel awkwardly.

“And why do you go to France and Belgium,” said Miss Ivors, “instead of visiting your own land?”

“Well,” said Gabriel, “it’s partly to keep in touch with the languages and partly for a change.”

“And haven’t you your own language to keep in touch with—Irish?” asked Miss Ivors.

“Well,” said Gabriel, “if it comes to that, you know, Irish is not my language.”

Their neighbours had turned to listen to the cross-examination. Gabriel glanced right and left nervously and tried to keep his good humour under the ordeal which was making a blush invade his forehead.

“And haven’t you your own land to visit,” continued Miss Ivors, “that you know nothing of, your own people, and your own country?”

“O, to tell you the truth,” retorted Gabriel suddenly, “I’m sick of my own country, sick of it!”

“Why?” asked Miss Ivors.

Gabriel did not answer for his retort had heated him.

“Why?” repeated Miss Ivors.

They had to go visiting together and, as he had not answered her, Miss Ivors said warmly:

“Of course, you’ve no answer.”

Gabriel tried to cover his agitation by taking part in the dance with great energy. He avoided her eyes for he had seen a sour expression on her face. But when they met in the long chain he was surprised to feel his hand firmly pressed. She looked at him from under her brows for a moment quizzically until he smiled. Then, just as the chain was about to start again, she stood on tiptoe and whispered into his ear:

“West Briton!”

Words: The Dead from Dubliners by James Joyce

Snow in Firhouse

Snow was due today. However, we only got a light smattering of sleet around midday which melted straightaway on the wet ground. Snow is rare enough in Ireland that we still look forward to it as a magical event. The last decent snow fall we had in Firhouse was about two years ago. So this snow filled post is James’s way of compensating for today’s disappointment.

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Snow Flakes – Dodder Valley Park, Firhouse
Snow Garden

Calligraphic Marks
Ink Well

The higher contrast  of objects in snow is often very calligraphic, like a chinese water-ink painting on a white background. People trees, bushes and rivers appear almost black against snow. With this in mind I did the following mixed media painting.

Firhouse Bridge under Snow

Hunters in the Snow (below) is one of those paintings that has captivated James from the first time he saw it as a teenager. It is such a vivid scene, more of a cast spell than a mere painting.

Hunters in the Snow – Pieter Breugel the Elder

When commissioned to create a mural for a child’s bedroom, James was given carte blanche to paint whatever he wished. Very quickly he came up with the idea of recreating the Hunter’s in the Snow scene. It was a fairly faithful rendering, but with one big exception – the human characters were replaced with animal ones. The dog in the foreground collecting the stick was a portrait of Jack, the family dog.

Full Mural
Detail
Mural Detail
Mural in context

Images: JesseJames. Words: JesseJames.

This Shortest Day

So the Shortest day came, and the year died,

And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world

Came people singing, dancing,

To drive the dark away.

They lighted candles in the winter trees;

They hung their homes with evergreen;

They burned beseeching fires all night long

To keep the year alive,

And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake

They shouted, revelling.

Through all the frosty ages you can hear them

Echoing behind us – listen!!

All the long echoes sing the same delight,

This shortest day,

As promise wakens in the sleeping land:

They carol, feast, give thanks,

And dearly love their friends,

And hope for peace.

And so do we, here, now,

This year and every year.

Welcome Yule!

 

Image: JesseJames. Words: Susan Cooper.