Salvador Dali popped in for a chat about gardens the other day. That’s right, “the” Salvador Dali or, “Sal” as he’s known to me. The delightfully deliciously deranged, but sadly deceased, surrealist. He pops in, to my head, obviously, for a chat and to chide and cajole me about the design of our garden in Wales. I happened to mention to him one time, it’s inspired by his own fisherman’s cottage at Portlligat on the Catalonian coast at Cap de Creus just north of Cadaques.
Sal says he quite likes Tanrallt. Nestling, as its Welsh name suggests, in the hillside of a headland with it’s garden perched high above the level of its chimney stacks, looking out over Cardigan Bay towards Snowdonia.
Less is not more?
“It has “potencial”‘ he says, as he charges around the paths suggesting mad schemes and mind bending vistas. He stops to explain that less is not necessarily more! “Més és més – you English fool – you must be bold – stop drawing in the corner of the page – “ser valent!””
And, “You must make, as Gala and I did, a true biological structurea true biological structure. Each new pulse in our lives had its own new cell.”
I know he’s right. I can still picture the rooms at the fisherman’s cottage connected by a labyrinth full of shocking dissonant colours, bric a brac and knicknacks disassembled, reconstructed and resuscitated. Fantastic beasts. Diabolical contraptions…
“But Sal…” I say. “Times have changed. I was thinking a bit more minimalist”.
“Minimalist my arse!” he says. “Art is eternal and ephemeral.”
“How does that work?” I complain.
“Neil, my sad English friend, do I have to explain…?” He sounds disappointed in me.
“I bought the fisherman’s house in 1930. There was no electricity or running water. It was there that I learned to impoverish myself. To limit and file down my thinking in order that it might become effective as an ax, where blood had the taste of blood, and honey the taste of honey.”
“Okay so less is more then, as I said?”
“Idiota! Impoverishment doesn’t mean simplicity. If you think that you must be a fool. Ximple! Dare to be peculiar or be damned!” And then he was gone.
Peculiar is Perfect…
He’ll be back. He can’t resist. Whenever I contemplate a compromise and the design of least resistance, he’s there rolling his eyes and sharpening his moustache. Eventually we agree that he was right all along. I was too fearful, too conventional. I agree peculiar is perfect for the job in hand and sometimes we celebrate looking out over the bay by sharing his favourite drink, the Casanova cocktail. Who cares what the neighbours might think.
“Here’s to you Sal!”
And in case your interested in sharing an alcoholic moment with a surrealist spectre, you could always join us.