Friday, August 28, 2009

Poplar Ball

Poplar Ball, originally uploaded by escher (waiting for Autumn).

We went looking for some new land art locations this morning and found a wonderful valley with a river in spate raging through the middle, a mini-gorge and a massive land slide. Every time we find a new magic hidden corner I am amazed at how much wonderful countryside there is around here, and we seem to find new magical places all the time. Northern Lancashire is fantastic for those of us who like to explore and delight at every mushroom, bird, flower and stream that is found. There is wide-eyed, child-like joy to be found round every corner. Or perhaps that's just me?

The rolling lane we took from the main road soon lifted us high onto the moor, the heather in flower glowed pink and the scudding clouds dragged dappled sunlight across the fells. There is nowhere more beautiful than the wild places of Northern Britain in such conditions. The rain and the shards of sun make the greens seem unreal and the pinks outlandish and the whole place wild and desolate and thrilling. It is though the saturation is permanently turned up and there is nowhere else you would want to be.

Uncle Hurricane Bill has come to visit us for a few days and his solo trip across the pond as left him much weakened and weary but he has still managed to lash us with wild winds and heavy rains. These pictures tell of the gaps between the squally showers as the wind dropped and the sun came out only for it to whip up again and for the heavens to open.

The branch that the ball is sat on was certainly not static and it got shaken off several times before I was finished, like a little seed ready to germinate, hitting the ground with a thunk. Each time a few more thorns would fall out and it was rendered a little bit more battered and out of shape.

The poplar leaves are like suede underneath, soft to the touch and white like no other leaves I know. As usual my land art ideas begin with simply finding something in nature that intrigues me with its beauty, so much so I have to make something with it. And then something about its structure or colour or another attribute will lead me want to follow the flow of what I see and see where it takes me. Intuitively exploring whatever I have found to feel and learn more about it.

These leaves have a delicate curve so that when you join them together they at first begin to form a bowl and the logical progression of this is of course a sphere. So that is the thought process I go through. First I see the leaves and pick one and feel its texture and marvel at its white underneath, the maple like shape that interlocks when joined together and the gentle curve that forms a sphere once the curve flows back around to join with itself once again.

I have a dream that one day I will have my own exhibition in a gallery and that some people will be interested enough to come see and will be enthralled enough to say that they enjoyed it. But ephemeral land art is as much about natural places and nature herself as it is about sculptures made from natural materials. To try and bring these things indoors divorces them from their home and can render them soulless and lost and lacking the energy and vibrancy that an ephemeral sculpture can be embued with outside. I have visited Andy Goldsworthy exhibitions and have seen some of his art keep that magic to such an extent that it takes your breath away and yet I have seen others that seem to be cut off from the source of their life. Perhaps this is simply how I viewed each sculpture, or perhaps that is indeed how they were but I long to discover how to bring that magic from outside to in so that more than a picture of an artwork can be shared.

So I think I am going to make a much larger poplar ball just to see if I can and to see if it develops sufficiently to be shown inside. I've brought home this one as I want to see what happens as the leaves dry out and to see how long it will last. The leaves are unlike any other deciduous leaves that I know so I am sure the result will be a surprise. I also expect my mood may have changed by tomorrow so I won't spout quite so much twaddle!

I photoed this amongst deciduous trees as that is where it came from but I also intended to take it onto the moor and set it upon dark, wet peat. That was going to be my entry into this months Land Art Connections project, theme "opposites", the white on black, growth of leaves on life giving earth. But I have a knackered foot and once we had stopped wandering this morning I winced at the thought of climbing high onto the moor and decided rest was a better idea. So here is my entry lacking a little of the concept aside from the whiteness of the leaves being the opposite of the green on top.

Made at Roeburndale Lancashire on 28th August 2009 from poplar, hazel and thorns.

Land Art Site

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