Sunday, June 21, 2009

Cow Parsley Frond Cross

Cow Parsley Frond Cross, originally uploaded by e s c h e r.

I am not sure about the Iron Cross look that I ended up with but it is a good example of how the material constrains and conspires to shape the end result.

First I made the circle in the usual way. This consists of swearing, snapping thorns, sticking thorns into ends of fingers and yelping and exclaiming "why did I say these were easy to make?" They are easy to make when everything goes well but when the stick starts to split, the thorns snap and when you have stabbed yourself more than ten times then easy is not really an apt description. It really isn't much fun making your finger tips into pin cushions.

Then I went looking for the purple cow parsley leaves. Whilst out running a couple of weeks ago I saw these leaves and was amazed at how purple they were. I just had to do something with them. Today as I walked along my running route my heart sank as I thought I had left it too long. The plants by the side of the track were dying and the purple colour had gone and the leaves had wilted quite a lot. But I persevered and eventually found more and more intact purple fronds - none of them as good as the first ones I found but that was all there was. as I walked back to my starting point I chuckled to myself as there were purple leaves all along where I thought they had died. Just shows that with whatever I make I have to get my eye in before I can see most of what is there. My senses are not switched on until I have spent some time in the environment looking for things.

I sorted through what I had collected and my original idea of attaching the leaves so that the pointed end would point outwards wasn't going to work, instead I would have to point them inwards. Also I would need to divide the circle into segments so that I could support each frond. Once I had attached the grass sticks I sorted through the leaves again and could only find four that were the right size to fit into a segment.

All these factors meant that the iron cross shape was what I ended up with. Dividing the circle to support the leaves, pointing them inwards rather than outwards and only finding four that were suitable. I suspect that I would have found more suitable leaves if I had searched last week but I didn't so this sculpture, as always, is a representation of my vision for an idea combined with what nature had offered up. Both my idea and what the material allowed me to do conspired to produce the end result. I learnt about a new colour, what techniques I needed to employ and some about the lifecycle of cow parsley. More land art lessons learnt.

So where does this leave me? The fronds were not uniform and neat enough, the colours not strong enough despite having seen stronger purple a week earlier and the sun wouldn't come out so I could display the colour more vibrantly. My next attempt may have to be next year when they grow again but what I have learnt means I have stepped onto the first rung of the ladder with this material and this idea, and next time I will improve and refine and understand a little more about what I am doing and the sculpture should be more striking. This is what land art is all about.


Pete Woodruff said...

The toss of a coin would have to decide for me whether or not this is a 'better' creation than your 'Waterfall Triangle's'. Whatever, two excellent examples of your art Rich.

My Best Wishes

DJ said...

Delicate and strong at the same time...

Richard Shilling said...

Thanks again Pete and thanks again DJ you are a gem!

My first copy of the book ships to me today! Yay!