June – Month of the Hawthorn

After spending quite some time trying to find alternatives to the old hawthorns in the Observatory park I nevertheless decided to perform the image of June for the Tree calendar there. I remembered the hawthorns from 2010 when I was preparing the small audio work In the Shadow of a Hawthorn for Olohuone (Living Room) urban festival in Turku. (The work is fairly well documented on the Research Catalogue). At that time I read all I could find about the various types of hawthorns growing in Finland. Thus I was quite sure I would still recognise a hawthorn even before they were in bloom. Of the four types of hawthorns that I chose to work with in Turku at that time at least two could be found in the park in Helsinki now. The small old hawthorn trees on the slope with their twisted trunks were of the species Crataegus Rhipidophylla, I suppose, while the hawthorns that formed a hedge on the panorama spot were probably of the common type used in hedges, Crataegus Grayana. Some hawthorns of that type were growing uncontrolled on the slope near the street to the south of the park, and there I also found a beautiful small tree or actually a large bush with several trunks growing from the same root, right by the sidewalk, an example of Crataegus Monogyna, as far as I could judge. I chose that one and the hedge as my partners on Tuesday evening and decided to return in the morning when there would be less people in the park and a better light.

On Wednesday morning, after visiting the elm and the alder as usual, I walked up to the panorama spot in the park and placed my camera on tripod in such a manner that neither the nearby tree on the left or the rubbish bin on the right were inside the image frame. To my great surprise the huge boat that had arrived into the harbour below was not visible in the image. I made a few try-outs to find the right spot to stand in, on the steps in the opening of the hedge, placed my weight evenly on both feet and took hold of a branch of the hawthorn with my right hand, ready to stand there for ten minutes or so. But of course some groups of people appeared from nowhere and wanted to go down to the terrace below. Luckily I was standing close to the hawthorn so they could pass behind my back.
The other hawthorn was not as easy to pose with. I did not find a comfortable way to sit on it or lean on it but placed myself between the trunks somehow, keeping myself there by pressing my feet to he ground and my back to one of the trunks, avoiding the thorns. I tried to stay there in a half laying position, looking at the confused tiny ants climbing up and down along the trunk. I could not hold that position very long, for although it looks comfortable in the image it was rather painful to maintain. And this time, too, there were some passersby entering the image, while using the tiny path behind the hawthorn: a woman with a dog seemed to park there for ever. But perhaps some passersby are refreshing, after all. While editing I have to see whether the image is more interesting with or without these “intruding” figures. The important thing is that I managed to create something before the end of the month of the hawthorn, 12 of June, at least following the variation of the calendar that I have used so far.

Returning to edit these notes in Hamburg, after an enjoyable and exhausting PSi (Performance Studies International) conference on the theme of Overflow in the premises of the legendary Kampnagel, that morning with the hawthorns only a few days ago feels strangely distant. Already tomorrow, however, I will return to the vicinity and take up my practice of visiting the trees again.