Sunday, April 25, 2010

Laurel Reflections

Laurel Reflections, originally uploaded by escher....

I wasn't expecting it to have rained overnight but as it hadn't done for quite a while I knew the mixture of warmth, humid air and rain would send my garden into overdrive and mother nature too.

Went thorn hunting in the park again and already it was full up with dog walkers, push chairs and expectant wedding guests at the Ashton memorial.

Whilst heading towards the giant chamelia we found a couple more laurel bushes so I took a twig in case I decided to repeat the theme of yesterday, in anticipation of that company I mentioned yesterday wanting some images.

While we were there two boys came over to us, they were probably 8 or so, and said "there's a dead bird over there."

They looked worried.

"Is it a blackbird?" I said.

"It's black and white" they replied.

I wandered over to have a look at it was a juvenile magpie and it had probably been there a while. I told them that and then said that a fox will probably scavenge it and they shouldn't worry.

"A fox in here?" one of the exclaimed.

"There's only one thing for it" he shouted "run!"

And off they went making a very loud aeroplane noises.

I felt as excitable as they did as the maples had started to reveal new leaves and soon the pallete available to me would be huge.

We went back home and then onto the University campus as I wanted a good stretch of water to experiment with reflections.

Down by the lake a lot of work had been done: the lake had been extended, a station for barbecues replete with hobs, taps and bins has been set up, it looked an effort to reduce the burnt patches on the grass, the scattered beer cans, disposable barbecues and general waste. This intention had only been partially successful and the rubbish was now festooned around the barbecue station. overflowing out of the bins, in the lake and all around that area. The amount of rubbish in and around the lake was a real shocker and I tempted to go down there and clean it up myself but I am sure 20,000 students should be able to organise something! Or perhaps not.

Two groups of ducklings were present, one lot older and twice the size of the other. The youngest group numbered fifteen ducklings and they were the cutest of the cute. Like little motorboats zooming over the water and everytime they went on a excursion the big daddy goose ensured they were protected which was quite interesting to see. Obviously he was not their father but he guarded them wherever they went.

Later a white duck was desperately trying to get its end away with the mallard mother of the older ducklings. He was extremely rampant in his advances and the poor female was extremely distressed. Soon 10 or so mallard males joined in and tried to attack the white male, whilst the ducklings scattered. I could see why the big daddy goose wanted to protect them, they are some unruly characters amongst the coots, chickens, geese and ducks that live on that pond.

Three young lads were checking out the bird life and the eldest threw stones at the ducklings and got a ticking off from me. So he then started throwing them at the three territorial geese that had chased and hissed at me when I arrived (to everyone's amusement), so I thought twice before ticking him off again but of course I did anyway!

They came over to me and asked what I was doing, "making a sculpture" I said.

"What's a sculpture?"

"It is art made out of something like wood or stone or plasticine"

This piece of information was met with more aeroplane noises and running away. I have that effect on most people.

After we had been there a while several more barbecues had been lit, not one of them at the barbecue station and all around the field smoke billowed and individual piles of rubbish grew. But of course as we all know fairies/goblins/imaginary friends etc pick up litter so it is fine to chuck whatever you have wherever you want.

No-one except the aeroplane boys came to see what we were doing, the only visitors were an endless supply of pond scum, lily pads, weed and catkins all of which I didn't want in my shot. Each time I waded back into the water I sunk a little lower into the mud and the water nearly reached the top of my wellies.

But the more I do this, make sculptures and photograph them somewhere especially in public, the more I don't care what people think. That oft quoted Andy Goldsworthy line (that he said when handling ice in sub zero temps) "good art keeps you warm" isn't apt on a warm spring day. I prefer "my art means I don't care whether you think I am a weirdo."

This attitude comes in very handy standing in ponds, retrieving thorns from the middle of bushes and going everywhere with a plastic bag of leaves.

What won't be evident to you in these pictures is what I experienced with reflections. Through photography you pick out a moment in time, captured in an image. That snapshot can be a millisecond or several minutes. The ripples and reflections of the water left me mesmerised, each moment captured within my camera. I've decided to purchase a pair of waders and I think I will spend a lot more time standing in water, fighting off geese and being mesmerised by the water's surface all around me. Now is that weird?!

It wasn't over yet, there was more thing thign of weirdness to encounter. 'The tale of the bumless chicken.'

Whether he had had an accident or was born like I don't know but despite my amusement he wasn't so amused at my attempts to get a blurry shot of his missing bottom! It isn't nice to mock (or photograph) the afflicted! So I left him alone and went home.


EmandaJ said...

Hello again Richard,

I posted a comment about your previous blog on my blog at

I was wondering if I could use a group of images of your work to inspire a jewelry-making challenge. I think your work is very inspiring (well, you know that already) and I would like to introduce your work to a wider audience.

Would you be okay with that? I would even ask you to judge the winner if you like.


jenny mccabe said...

Ive just discovered you and your work through the etsy feature you did.
wonderful stuff, I will spend a long time looking through your flickr images later !! I live in Lancaster as well and will be looking out on my next walk for any signs of you or your work!!
I will mention you in my blog so my friends can find you also!
keep up the good work xxx jenny

Richard Shilling said...

Thanks Emanda. I've written back to you over at your studio.

Jenny: small world eh? If you see a strange person with a plastic bag full of leaves then it may be me, or it might be one of my decoys. I have to be careful as it is easy to annoy the squirrels. Seriously though (not that I do that) thanks for taking the time, you've made my day. I hope you chance upon a random sculpture one day, there's a few up on Clougha if you are ever up that way. Otherwise you'll have to be pretty lucky as the westerly winds eat them well before anyone else gets to see them.

Thanks again