Sunday, March 21, 2010

Winter Beech Leaf Gradient (There's Nothing Wrong with Brown)

There is nothing wrong with brown.

I received an email the other day with a very kind offer to be allowed to make land art in someones woodland. In order to make sure that you don't organise an illegal rave there, I shall not tell you who owns it or where it is.

So we went to visit it today, not really expecting to make anything as spring hasn't quite sprung yet. And as I keep saying to everyone who'll listen: "I am a bit fed up of just brown and ever-green, all there is is dead wood, stone and fallen leaves."

Now this was definitely a case of not looking hard enough, or indeed not looking in the right way.

As we were being shown around the wood my overriding feeling was of peace and tranquility. I felt especially relaxed and un-get-at-able there and I am sure it had nothing to do with the jar of Valium I had guzzled beforehand. I've seen Deliverance and I am always suspicious of invites to woods in the middle of nowhere by strangers so I thought I'd best be prepared for a shock.

But seriously, despite the cacophony of shotguns being fired across the field and the sound of banjos being duelled, I did feel contented and relaxed and perhaps my eyes were to open in the right way.

Where before I had just seen brown, black and grey now I saw every hue of brown one could imagine, muted shades right through to black. The leaves on the ground had not rotted away as it had been drier than usual this winter and colder too so perhaps they had been prevented from rotting by a covering of snow, frozen ground and frost.

Many of the leaves were bleached from the sun and where they overlapped with another, they would be much darker underneath. This picture doesn't show how white they were as it rained lightly and stained the white leaves darker.

I took sections of the beech leaves and pinned them onto a slab of bark, sealing the edges with strips of more bark pinned with thorns before displaying them on the rotten and black, fallen tree.

I came away with two overriding feelings today. One of peace and relaxation and the pleasure of the generosity of someone who is happy to share their peaceful idyll with others that would appreciate it just like they do. It would be so easy to erect 'keep out' and 'strictly private' signs all around this wood (and this world) but it would not be a place where peace would be found by the trespassers or the owners alike. Generosity helps both parties either side of the gift and for that I want to express my heartfelt gratitude for being on the receiving end.

And secondly I came away with a feeling of joy in what Andy Goldsworthy has given to me. This sculpture is an homage to him and his vision which has allowed me to peel back the layers of nature too and find what is hidden beneath. Unequivocally the fade of found, natural colours is from the vision of Goldsworthy but I have taken it and seen it through my own eyes and I will not apologise for that.

For those who are generous of spirit will appreciate things for what they are whereas the ungenerous will seek to exorcise their own demons through criticising what others do while singularly faling to ever take a look at themselves.

If land art is about anything it is about the time spent doing it, just being in a place, taking the time to be and being at peace with yourself and with nature.

If that is how you really feel then why would you not want to share this with everyone you can?

A gift made will payback tenfold and this is true in so many aspects life.

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