Sunday, October 25, 2009

Wych Elm Leaf Colour Slab

Wych Elm Leaf Colour Slab, originally uploaded by ...escher....

Now this might look unfinished to you, I would have liked to have covered the whole slab but what might look like a idyllic scene does not tell the whole story.

There was quite a bit of rain yesterday and overnight and when I arrived at the river it was much higher than it has been recently. Unbelievably my Equilibrium Stack, was still standing but I couldn't get across to it to see the spider colony. And where the Autumn Beech Water Box once stood there was now considerable white water and several large bow waves. The power of the river was impressive so I went up stream to see what I could find.

On the walk down the strong winds had brought down lots of leaves and we found some particularly striking mottled yellow and green elm leaves and so I decided whatever I made would have to incorporate them. As I clambered over the moss covered roots and river stones along the bank I came across a large flat slab and immediately wanted to use it.

I spent a while man-handling it until it was a few inches above the surface as I thought it would look attractive there and so I begun a few different leaf designs to see what I fancied doing. After a while I could see the different hues present and thought about making a colour fade.

I am quite accustomed to studying leaves but the Land Art lessons I would learn today would not be what I expected and would prove to be quite infuriating! As I finally got the green section done the water had obviously risen and now a wave kept passing over the slab removing some of the leaves. I really, really hate redoing things even though I often have to. As things take shape I get excited about how it is looking and it helps push you on to do more, to go back and redo things upsets the flow and is annoying.

As the first wave hit I had just started to really get into it and could see how it would turn out but there was nothing else for it I had to shore up the slab some or else it was going to keep happening.

That was easier said than done. As I moved it I dipped the leaf end into the water and half of them floated away. Curses! It was still raining and so the water was going to keep rising but this obvious fact did not seem to filter through to the useful part of my brain and each time I started again, after making it higher, more waves would crash over the top of it taking my leaves with it.

The other problem I had was shoring it up without dropping the whole thing into the water. The slab was about three feet long and quite thick and very, very heavy. And the water was now welly height which made it even more diffult to lift up. The flow was so strong that as I dropped in stones, even big ones, into the water to put the slab on top of they would immediately be grabbed by the current and disappear into the depths. I was in a quandry. Should I risk it as it is and hope all the leaves don't get washed away? Or should I persevere and get it higher as any work would end up ruined if I didn't?

Well it took a while to finally get it and realise that I would have to make it much higher or go home with my tail between my legs. After four more times of making it higher but not enough, as the rising water sent new waves over the surface removing loads of leaves I eventually realised I would need to sort it out properly. I raised it even higher and begun, reluctantly, to fill in the ruined sections.

And yet the river was still rising. Hmmm, I am an idiot!

I thought that I would now not fill in the whole slab as I couldn't seem to get the waves to stop or get it high enough. I tried something else, I chucked some big stones in up stream from it to create a break water and that, after throwing in some really big ones, seemed to help. I went back to the little platform I had made to kneel on and carried on. It took a few seconds to notice that I had neglected to raise up my platform and now my horizontal wellies were full of water! Idiot again!

But as usual I perservered and the waves now only went over the section I didn't fill in at the end. So it might not look finished and next time I will plan things properly but once again nature herself played a part in what I created and without a crane and a SCUBA suit I could do no more!

Arty-farty alert:-

It occured to me as I was making this that the leaf colours are like the story of a tree's year. The fresh green growth of Spring at one end, continuing through Summer, fading to yellow during early Autumn, then to brown and finally to black as the leaves rot on the forest floor during Winter. It is like a timeline of the seasonal lifecycle.p>

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