Saturday, April 25, 2009

Homage to the Sand Martin


Homage to the Sand Martin, originally uploaded by e s c h e r.

Another bright and breezy day today and I think I had the best of it this morning. It's clouded over now, the wind has built up and the garden which has been praying for some rain may have it's wish granted.

I wanted to work with mud and clay today and make something with holes, not exactly sure what so I headed down to the River Lune to search for some inspiration. The woods were vibrant with a carpet of bluebells and the air was rich with the pungent aroma of wild garlic. It's on mornings like these that it is a joy to be alive.

I walked down to the crook to see what was left of any previous sculptures and I hunted for a new location to build something. At the back of my mind I thought of returning to the place where I made the Seed Tree but as there is no water there, and the lack of rain meant the ground was hard I decided that I would have to make something near to the river where I could gather clay and water.

I filled my bucket with rich sandy clay and mixed it with river water. Now what I am going to build?

With Spring comes an explosion of life. The air is filled with clouds of newly born insects and this heralds the return of the swallows, swifts and martins and the River Lune is an important site for sand martins. It was thrilling to see them again darting backwards and forwards across the water stripping the air of the swarming clouds of insects. They nest in a very specific environment and this is why the Lune is important. Its steep sandy banks make perfect places for them to burrow tunnels for their nests. All along this section the banks are peppered with nest entrances reminiscent of crumbling buildings riddled with bullets holes in a war zone.

The return of the sand martins from their overwintering in Africa meant that I had to choose another place to create a sculpture. I did not want to disturb any nests or the birds themselves and yet I wanted to use their environment for the sculpture itself. So armed with a bucketful of clay and sand taken from the bank where they nest (not actually near any nests or where the birds were - but the same type of place), water from the river that feeds the life here I decided to head up to the place I originally planned on going. It just meant I would have to take the materials with me. Man oh man that bucket was heavy. Oh how I cursed it as I lugged it up the hill! Fortunately it was still early and no-one was there to spot me struggling.

I selected a dead tree branch and inserted it into a small hole before fashioning holes reminiscent of sand martin nest entrances from the mud I had carried with me. I placed the branch so that it overlooks the River Lune, where the sand martins have returned to and where I collected the clay and the water.

A peregrine flew past and a buzzard with a large notch in its wing was being mobbed by a crow while people walking their dogs trudged up and down the hill.

A few people stopped to ask me what I was doing and we chatted about land art. One lady seemed very interested and came back to chat some more and we discussed the philosophy of land art, Andy Goldsworthy, living in the moment and the joy of being. Her beautiful and cheeky labrador took exception to this, proceeded to dig holes and eat turf then jump up at me as if to say "stop talking! - Why don't you play with me?"

All in all a fine morning.

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1 comment:

emmanuel said...

nice play to you to jump in the tree!
i love this creation because of it's strange link to nature. a sort of fear...