Diane Johnson is a Fine Ecological Artist whose roots are firmly planted in the soil of Kent

Diane's Marchwood Art Project

Natures Playground - (2008)

image002I became involved with the project when I answered an advertisement in the Artist news magazine (A.N). It was under the heading “Loose Dogs and Loose Artists”. The title intrigued me, so I contacted them and arranged a meeting. After receiving a large page of directions on how to find it, this is how the project began. The first mystery was solved when I arrived at the meeting point, opposite the entrance gate there was a sign that read “LOOSE DOGS KEEP OUT”.

Marchwood is a private wood, and at the moment still closed to the public, but it is often opened for specific occasions/ groups (see forthcoming exhibitions page for details). For many years it was used by the Territorial Army as a training ground, and they have left a legacy of things no longer wanted behind. The only criteria for the artists are that as there is no funding, you can use whatever you can find or recycle. So that gave the second half of the title “LOOSE ARTISTS”.

The woods are very beautiful and full of wild life. On my first visit the bluebells covered them like a blue sea. The main pathway leads you through to a beautiful lake with swans, ducks and many more birds enjoying the water. While the woods are home to rabbits and squirrels, which are very inquisitive, as I discovered after a very close encounter while working out there.image004 As I walked along the path, there were some climbing ropes that had been left tied between to trees. A little further on there was a small pond with ropes across it and as I went round the corner there was a climbing wall. These three things became the basis for my work.

As you walk down the path, just past the rickety old bridge in the birch area on your right, you will see my first piece, “Woodwide Web”. This is created using saplings bound with coloured string tied between two birch trees. I chose blue and yellow as a response to the bluebells and primroses that were so abundant. To make it more visible I have added a central compact disc, when I began working on this piece it was the beginning of spring and there were only a few leaves sprouting on the trees. As time progressed the leaf canopy became denser making it harder to locate. The cd reflects any sun light to illuminate the piece.

image006For my second piece you need to continue on just a few hundred metres, and you will come to the small pond. For this piece “A Little Light Water Music “ I have covered three hoola hoops in kitchen foil and added old music cd’s (from Bob Dylan to Handles Messiah) to the centre. Theses are suspended on fishing wire that was picked up from the beach at Dover. Again depending on the time of year, these create a reflective view and mood especially at sunrise and sunset as the light catches them as they turn in the breeze. This is a contemplative piece best viewed by standing and looking for a few minutes. (Thank you to my grandson Shane Howland for his input on this piece.)

My third piece is very different to the others in so far that it was created within my studio and then installed onto the disused climbing wall. To view this continue on around the corner and then it is just to your left in the pine forest. The inspiration for this tryptic of paintings comes from photographs that I took on my first visit as I walked down the main path, between my other two pieces.image008 010 Although most of the wood is very dense, there is a large field that has just a few sparse trees in it. This with the combination of trees from the location of the paintings is the basis of the work. It was very difficult to decide how to paint this. As an Eco artist I had to take into account all aspects of any effect that my medium may have as it erodes. With this in mind I decided to paint it in acrylics and seal with waterproof P.V.A. These are not things that I would consider normally but after much research found that these would have the least environmental impact. The surface and the paint bellow should gradually dissolve with the weather and not flake or peel. This means that it should not be toxic to the flora and fauna within the immediate location.

seasonsMarchwood news updates

So what have I been doing in the woods this year?

For those of you that have seen the Marchwood page, it is still very much an ongoing project. The “Seasons” paintings have now been installed for over a year. They have had to be moved from thier original location. They are now futher along that path, and turn right towards the peat bogs, where you will see them directly infront of you on that wall.  
They are holding up well to the elements.

dying with dignity



I have also been working on a new piece called “Dying with Dignity”. This has meant spending many hours with buckets of wet plaster and bandages, wrapping the branches of a fallen tree to preserve them. I have also added words to re-iterate the meaning of the piece, (see below). It is still not finished completely, but hopefully will be before the winter sets in. I do not expect this piece to last long, as I have used bio-degradable materials.



Please let me die with dignity

Do not be sad for me. Rejoice in my life, be strong yet gentle. Grow tall but remember to keep your roots firmly planted in the ground. Support yourself and others who need you. Embrace life.

Do not hasten my departure. Leave me to go in my own time. Mother Nature will know when I am ready. I am at peace with her judgment.

I was once magnificent, strong and bold.
Now I am weak and my time is limited, but not wasted.
Below my fragile limbs, new life is waiting for the right time to emerge.

Marchwood is an ongoing project, I am working on more pieces thoughout this year and will update you as they are completed. There is also lots of other events going on. If you would like to be involved please visit or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.