It was a sunday afternoon in Coimbra, Portugal, the day after the opening of my exhibition “Catching an Atmosphere”, and also the last day of my artist residence in Coimbra. I had been drawing a lot for the exhibition, but now I had done my part; the exhibition was up and running, and now I could just relax and do whatever I felt like.
I lived about a 10 minute walk from the Botanical Garden (in portuguese: Jardim Botânico) and I had walked by the big entrance gate everyday, spotting the tops of the huge palm trees inside the garden. I knew I had to visit it before I left the city, since I love the atmosphere in botanical gardens, and the beauty of the plants – especially palm trees! So, finally, on this sunday I decided to go.
The weather was strange that day. It was one of those days where the sun is shining one minute, and the next, rain is pouring down. After lunch it seemed to clear up a little, and to be on the safe side, I brought both my umbrella and my sunglasses, as well as my sketchbook and pencils. I have this thing with sunshine after rain. It creates some kind of a magical atmosphere. It’s like the trees and plants are filled with new energy; the leafs are all cleaned up and sparkling in the sun. The birds are singing louder than before – I imagine they are celebrating that the weather has turned. The air is clear and fresh – it was the perfect moment.
I was actually a little unlucky. The garden consists of two different parts, one that is very stringent and well-groomed, and one that is more jungle-like. The jungle part has some very tall trees, and due to windy weather it was closed. Also, the greenhouses that usually houses a wide range of tropical species, was under renovation, so I couldn’t visit those either. It didn’t matter though. I could concentrate on the one part that was actually open, and it was indeed enough for me to get happy and inspired!
The Botanic Garden was established in 1772. Here, as well as in the rest of Coimbra, you feel the historical vibes. The garden is decorated in a neoclassical style with symmetrical flower beds, statues, stairs and a big fountain; no matter where you look, it is beautiful. Even though it’s well cared for, it lacks neither soul or wildness. The first thing I saw was the “tropical corner”. Palm trees from five different continents stands side by side, so close that it’s almost like a palm forest. The wind made them sway, and there was especially a big palm that almost hypnotised me with its slowmotion-kind of sway. It was very beautiful.
As I went a little further, I discovered a small pond with goldfish, water lilies, and frogs jumping around. Kind of hypnotising too.
I took a stroll around the trails, enjoying the calm feeling that plants gives me. Something happens to me when I enter these kind of oases – parks, forests and botanical gardens. My thoughts slow down. Maybe it’s the walking, or maybe the air is cleaner amongst all these plants? Or maybe it is simply because of the beauty – the eye gets happy, and so do you!
I sat down in front of a small, strange palm tree and started sketching. All the time I had been in Coimbra I had drawn houses, but now I felt like doing a series of botanical drawings – I think that houses and plants are two of my favourite things to draw! Since I didn’t have much time, I only did some raw sketches at the garden and finished the drawings at home; which wasn’t hard though, since I have photos, videos and memories enough to imagine exactly how it was that day in Botanic Garden!
Back in Denmark I still felt like drawing palm trees, and luckily I came by these ones, who are situated at Nørrebro in Copenhagen. The danish climate is usually not suited for palm trees, but these ones are a special kind that can handle the cold winters. They are placed here by the artist group Superflex as a part of a permanent installation called Superkilen.
Puk Ewdokia (f. 1991) er kunstner og illustrator. Puk har bidraget til idoart.dk siden 2014.