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Tale of Pumpkin Wood, Cambridge

‘The Tale of Pumpkin Wood’ is a graphic novel - a ‘reality-based’ but magical narrative about the fate of five pumpkins that suddenly appeared in a wooded part of Bramblefield, in the context of the rapid economic development and also destruction going on around them.

The narrative originated in 'Pumpkin Portrait' sketches and photographs between November and December 2021. I had started to photograph the pumpkins to see how they decayed over time. But the real inspiration was a Sketchbook exercise where I had to fill a whole sketchbook with rapid drawings in different media in about an hour and a half. This made me appreciate how detailed and different their characters were. And made my photography work much more focused and observant. I found it interesting how the expressions of the pumpkins, and hence potential narratives, could be affected just by the angle of view from which a photograph is taken. This characterisation was then further developed by both working into the photographs, and fresh gouache paintings from them in the sketchbook.

Since the original work with the pumpkins, and long after they have disappeared into mould then pulp then dust, there have been other events like further development outside and recently a lot of vandalism. This has added to the narrative I originally developed. External events, particularly the war in Ukraine have also affected how I think about this small, cloistered work in the wood surrounded by building noise and social tensions.

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