Sunday, October 21, 2007

Leaf Square

Leaf Square, originally uploaded by escher1.

Down the bottom of the cemetery there is a group of sycamores with quite striking leaves. The autumn leaf litter underneath them consists of hues from yellow through to brown. Each leaf seems to be only of one colour though and the shades are quite subtle, almost pastel. I love those leaves and thoughts of how to use them in a work buzzed around my head for a few weeks. I didn’t think it would be possible to make anything under those trees, even though I would have liked to, as there were too many graves and it just wasn’t private and I really didn’t want to upset anyone. Shame really as I much prefer to make the work at the location from where the materials are collected.

In the morning I collected a bag full of leaves with the intention of taking them down to the woods by the Crook ‘o’ Lune and making something there. In my mind I imagined making a square of yellow leaves surrounded by brown leaves where the join between the two would be created by tearing along the middle of a brown leaf that is same shape as the yellow one to create the effect that the colour change is within a single leaf. I liked the idea of a square because I thought it might look like a window, a view, if you like, into another world. I wanted to achieve that otherworldly feel so inherent in Goldsworthy’s work.

I had looked at AG’s circular leaf works and I didn’t want to copy them exactly, another reason to try a different shape, but I couldn’t quite imagine how this would work in the corners. I thought that that might mess up the whole look but I persevered nonetheless.

First I pinned yellow leaves into the centre with thorns after clearing a patch of earth in the forest. I then attempted to start to create an edge. What at first seemed quite simple appeared to be problematic. Finding two leaves one brown, one yellow of the same size seemed to take ages. This is going to take a long time I think! But I persevered and this process became easier as I started to tune into the size and shapes of the leaves.

The first corner did prove a problem. It had to overlap it in a way that meant the continuous yellow/brown leaf effect was destroyed. But I don’t think it is too obvious in the final picture. Perhaps next time I will create a corner in the brown leaf on top rather than tearing it right through, maybe that will work.
Soon I ran out of thorns and had to go off to collect some more, none of the trees nearby were any good but I found some in the field next door. I grabbed some whole dead branches and carried them back to the leaf patch.

The right size and shape leaves were coming more easily to hand now and it didn’t take long to finish off the square. Now I need to complete the brown frame. Lots more pinning down required. At first I tried to make the leaves look like they had fallen there naturally but this didn’t really look right so I altered the orientation of the leaves to make them point outwards around the frame. This looked more balanced.

I set the camera up and looked at it through the viewfinder and took some test shots. This immediately showed me that one of the leaves in the frame was too light and stuck out like a sore thumb so I changed it.

I created a shadow with my body and the cushion I had been sitting on so that the light across the work was uniform and took some shots. Like this it looked a bit too artificial and wasn’t quite creating the effect that I desired. My original idea was to create a leaf patch that was hidden amongst the leaf litter so that it looked like it was part of the natural landscape yet alien to it as well.

I used some of the left over leaves to surround the square and make it look like it was amongst the leaf litter. Now this was more like it! This was just what I was trying to achieve! I became quite excited about the work, it seemed to come alive. The photo probably does not do it justice but the affect in person was quite stunning.

Probably my best work to date. I couldn’t wait to get home and load up the pictures!