Friday, October 23, 2009

Ivy Shadow Cube

Ivy Shadow Cube, originally uploaded by ...escher....

The trials and tribulations of Land Art.

Today we went somewhere different for a change, Barbondale in the Howgills. It is an awe inspiring landscape and with the yellowing grass, russet-brown bracken and dramatic skies the hills of Northern Britain are a treat during Autumn. Despite the inspiring landscape I find being creative much more challenging in limestone country.

The stream we set up next to disappeared in two places no doubt into a cave system. In one place it just petered out but in another you could hear it crashing down into the earth via a subterranean waterfall even though you couldn't see it's passage downwards.

Here the leaves had all but gone and despite it being mild I felt the barrenness of winter as materials were few and far between and as is usual I wandered looking for inspiration.

On the ground thistles were growing in a intriguing star shape so I first tried making a mud frame on a limestone wall to secures some of their leaves but the mud was the same colour as dog poo and really didn't look attractive at all!

Then I tried wrapping stones with bark but that didn't work either. There was plenty of rock to do some rock balancing but that felt like a cop-out. I wanted to make something ephemeral from plant materials.

By now I had spent several hours trying different things and nothing was grabbing me or looking like it was an idea that needed to be carried through. I was ready to give up as I was cold and the dexterity in my hands was fading and I wasn't sure if I could actually come up with anything worthwhile.

There was a raft of ivy growing over small cliff so I studied it's leaves for a bit. I had always overlooked ivy leaves before in favour of something more colourful but as they were the only leaves to be found here I sat down and looked at them more closely. Some had purple veins in them, some were pure green and some variegated. I thought to myself that they are actually very pretty leaves.

The other useful materials to be found there were grasses and thorns so I set about constructing a frame for the leaves.

Earlier I had noticed a calm section of stream and I liked how all the rocks were covered in silt and how dark the bottom was. I put the square sculpture onto the water and it floated but as I lifted it up I immediately saw the shadow. I would have to incorporate that with the idea so I did.

The most difficult part of this last bit was getting the legs to sit vertical so that the cube sides looked reasonably symmetrical. It's not perfect but the flow of the stream and the breeze made it diffuclt to get just right and the bottom was all stones so I couldn't just push the grass stalks into mud as I would have liked. Instead I had to move the stones around on the bottom until it was possible to reveal the full cube shape.

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