Finding beauty in “ugliness” shapes and artwork along with colour at Burntstump Park.
“Mundane, Grey and Meh” are possibly the best words to describe the August Bank Holiday of 2022, and after a summer of warmth, record breaking warmth with temperatures reaching a record breaking 40 degrees and heat waves slowly becoming the norm — “the new norm” to a degree as the planet slowly destructs itself due to what humans are capable of doing, the August Bank Holiday, had something of a change within the air. Goodbye warmth and instead a slight coolness was in the air, the clouds grey and often looking threatening with rain, a bit of drizzle did fall but despite drizzle the rain held off, instead the colour grey dominated the skies and hardly a break of the clouds to let through the sun. Yet do we ever expect anything other than miserable weather on a Bank Holiday? Probably not. However though with grey weather and a dull Bank Holiday on the cards, what better decision to go out, explore and get about, so when I arrived at a location that when I was younger I used to enjoy going to, I was somewhat mortified to find out that the car park had been altered and looked almost like something from a rather dystopian Science Fiction novel, either that or it had been designed with George Orwell muttering the following words,
“How can I make a once lovely place to visit, look like 1984? By adding more cameras to it, a barrier to prevent people from parking up and enjoying what Burntstump Park has to offer.”
Of course though once upon a time Burntstump Park was a pleasure and a pleasant place to walk around; not far from the Middle of Nottingham either and at one time it was a delightful gem to explore, but of course with a rather 1984 element of a dystopian future already beginning to show itself, I was slightly confused, if not a little worried as to why it had been ruined, but either way I was still in one way or another looking forward to seeing what else had changed, of course I knew the heatwave would have made things look rather parched, but with some welcome rain, I knew some greenery would have at long last made a welcome return. Walking through the empty car park, with the barriers in a downward position, I made my way over to where the pathway was, that I had spent in a younger life thoroughly enjoying, now though a change was in the air, and a vacuum could be felt — one in which energy is being sucked from you, and all around looking to the left of me I could see the cricket pitch and the aptly named “Burnt Stump” pub, between the cricket pitch and the pub plus by the side of the pathway that I was on, I could also see a general disregard for the park and when rustic can be used in a good way to describe things, rustic in the sense of Burntstump was not applicable, rubbish was in the undergrowth which was slightly off putting, but ahead of me was a challenge, and that was “Could I find any beauty within the ugliness?” a challenge that I had not faced before; that should have been easy.
Either way it was not long before I had reached a part of the pathway that I had walked along before, when to the right side of me I noticed something, a fallen tree amongst the undergrowth that stood out like a giant had fallen over, or someone had created a piece of sculpture, the light it was dark as I peered through the greenery and the fallen tree looked mysterious.
Before long, I looked ahead of me, and to the back of me, an avenue of trees that remained still, that also had no sense of feeling, nor emotion that lacked life — yet seemed so calm, maybe that was a bank holiday effect, but I had to capture the scene both in front of me and behind me.
Then to the left of me, I found another form of life clinging onto a Silver Birch, a Fungus and it was only after I had taken the photo that I decided “It certainly needs a Black and White edit.” Needless to say that I was rather impressed with how the photo turned out, calming and soothing in a strange way, life clinging on albeit in a different life form.
Ahead of me I could see where the pathway through the trees ended, in front of that the small and rather unkept rustic pond, overgrown with weeds and other “questionable things that live within it.” But I glanced to the right and noticed quite a pretty sight — the woodland looking like it had been plucked off the forest moon of Endor, and dropped in front of me.
Then I turned back around, ahead of me I could see the pathway framed by the trees leading towards the pond, a pond that at one time used to be well looked after, now forgotten, now overgrown and saddened by the lack of care that this once beautiful and well kept parkland had fallen into.
By the side of the pond, a little Robin was walking, completely unaware at just how uncared for Burntstump now is, then again the Robin is rather intelligent, perhaps more so than humans but here he was at the side of the pond, not a care in the world and wanting his photo taken.
Looking back at where I had walked, it looked sad, complex in a way, yet unloved, the light still grey but everything looked more greener than it had done in a long time, the pathway now leading back to where I had walked and the pond to the left with a somewhat ugly fence.
I then looked across the pond, shades of green, the stagnant water making for a slightly unpleasant whiff, but then I found something of a slice of beauty, it looked surreal to a degree, again something that you would expect to hear being described in a Tolkien book, the shades of green, the water and the overhanging tree branch made for something ever so slightly magical and mysterious.
Already though the signs of Autumn are beginning to show, I noticed some Acorns growing, usually they grow at height but to see them growing so close to the floor was a strange sight to see.
Continuing along, over a mixture of parched grass, grass that had got greenery within it, I eventually came to a tree, another one — only this time the branches looked more like an “Octopus” for was this also living artwork, living sculpture perhaps? It sure was in my mind, had I captured an odd shaped wood Octopus? Nope I had captured the raw beauty of this tree.
By now I was almost and the end of the walk, only across from me to the right hand side, a short distance away, feet away from the Burnt Stump Pub, I noticed a Silver Birch Tree; in complete full bloom that looked like a waterfall of green with the silver as the background, again another complex shot that I had to frame properly, but it just goes to show that even when there is something ugly, like the architecture of the nearby pub, that something beautiful could be found and this summed it up to me.
Walking up the hill towards where I had started on, I then noticed signs of Autumn, everywhere in front of me and to the left of me, where an old tree, dead and silent remained, guarding the park in a strange way; again to the right of me signs of Autumn, the leaves orange, and yet surrounding them was shades of green.
Then I arrived at the starting point, the pathway that I had started the walk on, again in front of me the car park quiet, Orwellian and dystopian, with concrete, shades of grey and ugliness, for Burntstump Park, I felt was ugly as well, a vacuum sucking energy out of you hovers around you and it is somewhere that feels unwelcoming, which is strange really as parklands should welcome you — here it puts you off from visiting, but had I found beauty in “ugliness?” That is a yes, despite the ugliness, despite the Orwellian and dystopian feeling and subsequent odd atmosphere, I had found a certain beauty, but I had to work to find the beauty, I suppose it proves that even the most ugly of scenes, landscapes or in a city, that you can find beauty, but you have to challenge yourself and find it, do that and things immediately look different. However, a return to Burntstump Park? Not in a hurry, unkept, messy and untidy is what it was and that spoilt an otherwise “once beautiful place,” Come on Gedling Borough Council, you have this beautiful parkland that offers so much yet you ruin it with Orwellian and Dystopian features that are enough to put anyone off, all it needs is a bit of love and TLC, then you could really see what potential it has.