Sunday, October 18, 2009

Autumn Beech Water Box

Autumn Beech Water Box, originally uploaded by ...escher....

Now that's what I call proper Autumn weather. The blue skies and drifting fluffy clouds of yesterday have given way to mist, drizzle and grey skies. It's been an interesting and prolific year making land art and today gave me the first reminder of last Autumn and the sculptures I was making then.

I went back to muddy Middlewood today and back down to that now familiar spot on the river and was amazed to find my stack still standing, see 'spider earthquake', along with JRTPickle's Leaf Candles,. The top stone had moved and now had bird poo on it, I wonder if it had landed on it and moved the stone, given itself a shock and left a marker of it's fleeting presence! How it hadn't toppled I do not know and as I set about trying to think of a new idea two Dippers flew past, loudly twittering as they banked around the corner at high speed and closely in procession.

The original thing that I saw that sparked this idea was an Ash frond laying in the water, with pairs of leaves either side of the stalk. I wanted to recreate that in the flow of the water but I would need to protect it from the moving water by building a wall around it and the wall would act as a frame boxing in the shape of the leaves. It is often something like that that will trigger an idea. I will see something like light shining through a leaf or a leaf that has fallen onto a rock and I will want to make something with the image I have in my mind's eye.

The river here passes between two cliffs and in places runs on top of the bedrock and it has carved several shelves so I immediately thought I wanted to build something there. I haven't made anything from stone for quite a while, save for balances, and as Winter approaches it will become a more often used material but as it is still Autumn and I decided to combine something delicate like a leaf with the hardness of stone.

And so that is how it was, frame a leaf by building a wall but I would need to do it on somewhere flat so the river shelf was perfect.

I went searching for flat square rocks that were suitable for building a structure and it took quite a while to find enough that were straight and flat and yet more time to find enough that were a similar depth so that the wall was the same height all round. The level of the water within the box was lower than outside and it flowed in through one corner and out through another. That gave me ideas for future projects, to see whether it is possible to control the strength and direction of flow and to incorporate that into a sculpture.

As I completed the box the water still flowed strongly through it so I would not be able to lay the leaf on the water so I would have to suspend it above the surface. I went looking for something suitable and came back with some grasses and arranged them in a grid. I laid the mountain ash leaves on top of them but it didn't look quite right.

I wanted it to have a form where the framed structure looked graphical like a well framed photo so I needed something that would fill the space in the right way so I decided on a beech branch many of which were growing nearby. I looked for one with the right shape and with a mixture of green and coloured leaves. It took a while experimenting with different shapes and styles before I was happy that it was framed properly. I removed some of the grass supports as they were upsetting the organic form of the branch and then I was done!

Hopefully that gives you an insight into how I go about making something. Somehow an idea is sparked by something I see, but it isn't the whole idea straight away. And as I start to work on that idea nature constrains what I can do and so I change tack and refine the idea, all the time learning more about the place and the materials I am using, until finally I end up with the finished article. The intutive process is very absorbing, very interesting and fun too.

No comments: