The artwork of the park. An “explosion of colour” at Victoria Park in Ilkeston.

What is a park? If you were to look up the meaning of the word park, it would more than likely say the following — “A large area of land with grass and trees, usually surrounded by fences or walls, and specially designed so that people can walk in it for pleasure or children can play in it.” And that synopsis generally speaking sums up what a park is; but the way in which parks are designed have elements of architecture involved in them and some even have a quirky interesting history. But regardless of, parks are also an area that provide an area of escapism within the urban environment, think of London and how many green open spaces that has, so people living and working in the middle of London itself can escape the rat race, the stresses of life and find somewhere calming, somewhere to think and somewhere that art can be found. Yes parks are very much art galleries, only here the artwork tends to be living, from flora and fauna to landscapes and views, vistas even of the area that they are surrounded by. But there is one park that during Lockdown, was a place of escapism for me and that is “Victoria Park.” A triangular shaped park which is located a metaphorical stones throw away from the middle of Ilkeston, a town that again has an interesting history and one that is a former spa town, that at one time would have had its own tramway, albeit a small tramway, but nonetheless back in its heyday it would have a pinnacle of engineering and a luxury. Now though the tramway has gone, and the park provides a sanctuary for escapism from what is quite a fractured world. It was last week when I had arrived at Victoria Park, the skies slightly grey but of course the humidity was still within the air, thankfully though a nice breeze was also keeping me company, and upon arrival what did I see? But a little Squirrel on the grass amongst some fallen leaves — that had a distinct look of “Autumn is encroaching” and it will not be long before it is here.

The squirrel on the grass in front of me was completely unaware and unphased about having its photograph taken, for I don’t even think it had noticed me and the lens. Still though I walked away from where the Squirrel was clearly enjoying exploring and looking for food, walked over the grass and onwards the the path, on the right hand side of me an overgrown section of parkland had been maintained, it looked clean, neat and well kept. But then ahead of me I noticed shades of different colours, pink, red, white all framed by the surrounding greenery and it was truly magical, perhaps even,

“An explosion of colour, for this was unlike anything else I had ever seen; the park, the plants stretched out in front of me like artwork, a painting almost framed by the shades of green all within a suburban area, yet how many people drive by a park like this and simply not take any notice of the beauty that it has to offer?”

I quickly got into position, and looked straight ahead at what was in front of me, a tapestry of colour under what was a rather grey and humid sky; combined of course with a gentle breeze.

Walking closer, encroaching on the colour I noticed just how pretty everything was; floral displays of colour providing some interesting compositions, but exactly how was I going to capture the raw beauty of this small yet perfectly formed triangular piece of landscaped land, landscaped in yesteryear and still enjoyed by many today? Then I found myself out of nowhere finding a composition. Did I find it? Or did it find me I wondered? Maybe it found me.

Turning around, I noticed something else, I had to change position and in front of me a singular red flower provided the perfect soothing and calming composition, needless to say that I was happy with the end result.

After taking that photograph and subsequently reviewing it, some more opportunities came about of colour, but exactly how was I going to capture the raw beauty of what was around me? Challenging myself I managed to capture some Panoramic Photographs of the park and its colour, plus one of just how vibrant things looked, despite it being grey — the plants certainly had an element of sunshine in them which also added a delightful warmth.

Then the park changed, in front of me trees, again slowly beginning to turn colour only to be accelerated in that change by the recent heat that has been here throughout the summer, record breaking temperatures as well, that had left the ground parched, again though things looking slightly greener in colour. The pathway ahead leading up towards something of an architectural and historical gem and feature of the park, which is the pergola and its rather “striking stone pillars” that were taken from the old Nottingham Prison, now make for an interesting and curious sight.

I walked along the pathway towards the Pergola, then looked back at where I had walked from, in amazement from a different perspective the colours of the carefully curated planted flower beds again looking like artwork.

To the right of me I noticed the Bandstand, and whilst it is not the Original bandstand, it is one of beauty that offers so many photogenic compositions and you could easily get away with capturing photographs of this bandstand throughout different times of the year, but again on the floor, the leaves that were signalling a change, orange in colour.

By now I had walked through the pergola, and I was now at the top path, the bandstand to the right of me, but I wanted to try something different and I walked over towards the bandstand, turned around and looked at the pergola, yes after taking a number of photos and stitching them together in “post processing” and editing them, I was rather happy with the end result.

Turning around again, I noticed the Bandstand, again though with flowers surrounding it that had been planted in a way that also reflected the theme of pink, red and white, a theme that added colour to a grey and humid day, the flowers also adding something artistic to a piece of architecture that might not be the original bandstand of yesteryear, but a more recent bandstand; yet somehow it looked beautiful and magical.

After gathering my thoughts for a short while, it was then time to make a move, peaceful it was and all around me amongst the shades of green, the colour was standing out like nothing I had seen before, a cool breeze to some degree made me forget just how humid it was, I then walked towards the pathway and the gentle slope to where I had started off from, but when I got to the bottom of the path, I looked across at the tapestry of carefully planted flowers in front of me.

And I paused for a moment, the flowers and the way that they had been planted made this park something else, yes a place for escapism, one that you can slow down and notice things that you would not have previously seen or noticed, but something else had struck me and that was the following — “Here I was at a seemingly ordinary looking urban park in a suburban area and yet somehow it felt more like I was in an art gallery; one in which the flowers and the compositions that surround you are the pictures hanging on the wall.” And that just about summed it up for me as I then reflected on The artwork of the park and an explosion of colour that I had just seen, for yes I had walked around a park; but on the other hand I had walked around a free and exciting, thus thought provoking art gallery with escapism offerings at every turn, now if only more local authorities and councils actually looked after their parks and parklands, maintained them and made them into a living art gallery with delightful and beautiful flowers, then the world might just be a happier place.

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