Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ribblesdale Snow Sentinel

Ribblesdale Snow Sentinel, originally uploaded by ...escher....

I was undecided whether to make anything today. I fancied spending all day playing on my Playstation but that really wouldn't be a good way to finish off an excellent year.

The strong cold winds of yesterday had abated so I headed off again to Ribblesdale to play in the snow.

It had snowed some more and there was new powder on top of the frozen crust and the mountains looked so very beautiful.

This time I took a direct route to where I was going to set up. This seemed like a sensible plan until I sunk one leg up to my knee in a stream, hidden by the snow, only for the cold water to find it's way down the top of my boot. Fortunately I had on my ice climbing boots and they are nice and warm

Rabbits were skipping about on top of the fresh snow and I was surprised to see a jet black one looking like a rabbit shaped hole cut out in the snow. They soon scarpered as I approached.

I had no idea what I was going to make so I set about checking out the condition of the snow to see whether that would spark any ideas. I opened my rucksack and realised I hadn't brought a jacket with me and I was going to get cold. Ever resourceful I pulled out my bothy bag (like a tarp) and my fold up seat. I stuffed the latter down the front of my trousers so that it felt like a bullet proof vest and I wrapped the former around my shoulders before zipping my top over them both. Ray Mears/Bear Grylls/Bush Tucker man/Chuck Norris (delete as applicable) would be proud of me! Then I set about making something.

Engrossed as I was in what I was doing I didn't notice the two gentleman approaching me until they were right upon me. I get a bit precious about freshly fallen snow and don't want anybody to take it's virginity. These two guys walked straight towards me leaving a trail in the fresh powder and I muttered to myself about how they were soiling my snow. That's right MY snow! The first of the pair got closer and I said:-


"Hello" he said back.

"What the 'eck are you doing?" He enquired. You see, Ribblesdale is in Yorkshire.

"I'm making a snow sculpture."

"Different" he replied.

My partner uses the word 'different' to describe food I have cooked for her that she doesn't particularly like.

The second guy came up behind the first and send to his mate "what is he doing?"

"Making a snow sculpture."

"Doing what?"

"Making a snow sculpture" he repeated.

"Oh, a snow culture I see." No I don't know what snow culture is either, something to do with skiing perhaps?

"Have a good day" they both chimed together and were on their way.

After trying a few different things I decided to start on what you can see here. Sentinel seemed an apt name but magnet would be another. As it seemed to be drawing people in my direction.

A family group were obviously intrigued as to what I was doing and I could see them gawping at me from where they were sledging. After a while they climbed up the slope to see what I was making. I won't bore you with all the conversation but here are some edited highlights.

The dad got to me first and stood proud on a rock like a mountain goat who had found the highest vantage point. He bellowed to his two sons "go left there boys."

"Why?" They shouted back.

"Because there is a big hole in front of you." This was like a red rag to a bull and they went straight towards it, just to have a look.

"DON'T!!" their dad shouted at quite some decibels. At this point a nearly knocked the sculpture off it's perch as I jumped out of my skin. It is so peaceful out in the wilds.

As one of the lads got closer, he must have been about 8, he asked me how long I had been making it. "Three or four hours, something like that" I told him.

"Not long then" he replied as he trudged off in the snow. Well, seeing as I was wearing rubber gloves with no insualtion and my fingers were frozen, three hours seemed like plenty thank you!

Then the mum asked me what I was going to call it. I said "I haven't thought of anything yet but it does look a bit like a kebab?" (see below for the snow donner in it's early stages).

Off they all trudged, the magnet had done it's work and now I was left to get on with it again.

When it was at about 3/4 height (it was about 5 foot tall) I started to sculpt it into the shape I wanted as I didn't want to add more weight as I feared it would fall over. Gently I carved the shape and rubbed powder into it to smooth out it's surface. As I collected powder from round and about the boulders I dumped it by it's base and smeared on handfuls just like applying wet clay to a clay sculpture.

I stood on the boulder it was built on ready to attack the top section, all of sudden my foot slipped and my weight went into the sculpture, cracking it around the base. I put my arms around it to keep it upright, swore under my breath, and panicking tried to think what I could do to save it.

The trouble was that it was the base I needed to shore up and I was standing up holding the top. I inched my way down slowly and tipped it towards me whilst pressing snow into the crack. Phew, it steadied and stayed upright. How close was that!

Once I had finished I stood back to look at it and realised that it blended into the background and would disappear in a photo. It was then that I thought about adding the grass stalks.

Just as I was finishing the last of those I admired how the sky looked very beautiful in front of me. I turned round to be confronted by a wall of white as a snow storm hit me full in the face. Within seconds it was a complete whiteout but I did discover that my camera keeps on working despite having three inches of snow caked to it's back.

I waited for the snow to clear and the dramatic skies returned and the sentinel stood proud over the valley.

Now I'll bet that you think that this Land Art lark is all over once I have the photo in the can. Well you'd be wrong! I always make a day of it whether I finish the sculpture early or not so seeing as I am on a (verbal diarrhoea) roll and you know all about how I make each sculpture well now I am going to tell you what else I do!

So photo in the can, stuff packed up and back to the car. Defrost car, change out of boots and drive home.

Get home (partner at work), switch on computer and start to download photos. Start putting dinner on, change out of wet clothes, begin writing my story, have shower. Get out of shower, stir dinner, write a bit more story. Look at photographs, put on some clothes, write some more story, go out to pick my partner from work. Get home, make tea, put some rice on, write some more of the story, stir the chilli, dish up and eat. Finish eating, make some coffee, finish off the story, process photos for Flickr, load up to Flickr, tag, assign to sets and groups, put on my blog and breathe... All in the space of two hours, time to sit down and have a beer I reckon! I am always telling you how Land Art has many hidden layers but I bet you didn't know how many!

That's funny, all I can hear now is snoring!

A happy new year to you all!


PLUMe said...

i really love the way this sculpture is so pure : as an "ave Maria"

Landart Tobias said...

Wow great work, you are very busy making landart ;o) ... i also love Maple Ice Windows - thanks for all your great work and have a gooed new year!

Richard Shilling said...

Thank you Tobias and Emmanuel - I hope you guys are busy too, out making land art. All the best to you both and a happy new year.