LEAVES JUGLANS NIGRA
"I made the first of my leaf drawings about 20 years ago. Walking one Christmas with my wife Síabhra in Les Jardin des Plantes in Paris I began picking up some of the leaves blowing about our feet. Later back in the studio I made a drawing of them as a sort of record. In the years following it became a habit, making drawings from collections of leaves gathered on visits to sites of architectural interest to me in my work – buildings by Le Corbusier, Mies Van der Rohe and so on. The most recent is a drawing of leaves gathered from the garden of Alvar Aalto’s house in Helsinki last summer.
In my studio this autumn, whilst working on other things, I looked out at the Paulownia tree in our yard. Its large leaves were beginning to drop like green napkins on the ground. Away from the tree I thought they looked so simple and so beautiful that I tried to record this in a drawing before they curled up and blew away. Leaves falling from other trees around our land in the following weeks then began to call to me too while I worked. Abandoning the spade, saw or wheelbarrow I would carry them carefully back to the studio and lay them out. A leaf from the Eastern Black Walnut that I grew from a fruit pocketed in the Jardin Botanico, Madrid on a visit to the Prado many years ago, or from its cousin the Persian Walnut that I grew from a nut picked up in the garden of a gallerist I was visiting in Salzburg. The Horse Chestnut leaf is from a row of trees planted outside my studio door that grew from seedlings I collected beneath the huge specimens that line the drive of my parents’ house. Raking leaves there one autumn, I couldn’t quite bring myself to discard them.
The only problem was that recording these things seemed to be becoming a task with no end. Once you were paying attention their elegance was irrestistible and they were all around. I was half glad when winter came and I could get back to other things. " (Blaise Drummond)