Saturday, May 08, 2010

Maple Sun Diamond

Maple Sun Diamond, originally uploaded by escher....

Have you heard of LARP or 'Live Action Roleplay'? It involves dressing up as hobbits, barbarians, elves and warriors and smiting each other with plastic swords. Imagine acting out Lord of the Rings with your mates on Saturday afternoon, that's LARP and it seems to be taking over from land art as the most popular strange activity to carry out in the woods, in the hope that passers-by will look at you weirdly.

I am quite used to receiving strange looks from passers by as I cobble together leaves and bits of wood. I am also quite used to battling the wind and rain and ephemeral materials when trying to create a little sculpture. What I am less used to is having an assortment of Orcs, Chinese dignatories, Roman centurions and people with blue faces wandering around in the background of my shot. I haven't yet developed any techniques to deal with such a situation perhaps using thorns and a stick and I didn't bring a plastic sword with me with which to do my own smiting.

A few years ago someone sent me some links to some LARP websites and some of the costumes were hilarious and possibly a little kinky. One person wore a full size racoon outfit complete with quiver and bow and arrow. I don't know about you but I don't remember many racoons in Lord of the Rings. And on another site accompanying the barbarians and elves were people dressed as sheep who spent their whole time on all fours being abused by the rest of the role players. I'm fairly broadminded but sheep-submissiveness was a new one on me. But hey, consenting sheep, consenting barbarian? Where's the harm?

So thinking Lord of the Rings is slightly misleading. This group of LARP'ers at the university included two people dressed as medieval Chinese, not soldiers but what looked like figures straight off of a painted plate complete with paper parasols. There was a single Roman centurion kitted out in white leather armour, helmet, shield and sword. I wonder if he wore that for his girlfriend? Or indeed whether he had one?! Then there was the guy with the blue face but the remainder stuck more closely to the Tolkien blueprint: Hobbits, Orcs, warriors and Elves. And there was one more, a guy with a clipboard and a hi-vis jacket. I haven't heard of the 'Legend of the Car Parking Attendant' so I suspect that he was actually adjudicating the whole affair (there are rules with LARP) or maybe he was on hand to administer first aid if someone got poked in the eye with a rubber spear.

I expect you want to know a little about this sculpture now? Well aren't people with blue faces enough for you? Sheesh...

I made this just over a year ago and I had been thinking about using those leaves again as they are so colourful, intricate and wonderful. They soon get ravaged by insects and the elements so it is now when they are at the most fresh and enchanting. I gathered just a few as the tree is not big and I try to take only what I need.

I'm always saying that nature helps construct each sculpture (and I am always saying that I am always saying that!) and this is the way it was with this one. I wanted to display the leaves in sunlight and so I would need to create some sort of frame on which to display them. I thought about a circle, like I did the first time but today it has been really windy and so these delicate leaves would need to be pinned to a more complex frame so that they could maintain their shape without flapping or tearing. Many times in the past the leaves have torn from their thorns which has rendered them ragged and more difficult to fix once again. So instead I made a square frame, reminiscent of oriental designs, which I thought would go with the Japanese maple.

The ends of the square overlapped so that I could chop off the excess when the thorns were in but I saw that where they overlapped I could fit the central veins of the leaves over the top. None of the leaves had right-angled veins so I made the square more diamond shaped so as to line up with the veins of each of the leaves.

As you can see from what I have explained the process of making a sculpture follows what the materials allow you to do, what the elements allow you to do and also by using the structures and properties of the materials themselves each sculpture uses the beauty of nature itself to be the main focus. I can take little credit for the end result, all I am doing is taking nature's photograph.

I don't decide I will make a cube, for example, and then find some materials and make them conform to being a cube. No, instead I look at the materials, the place, the environment and let those things guide me. If I see curved shapes then I think, sphere or circle. If I find straight lines then maybe a square or a cube.

This is the essence of my land art from start to finish. As I wander around looking at what has grown, it is the beauty, the colours, the textures, the shapes and structures that inspire me. I will then gather some of what I find and sitting still in one place I can feel the environment and sense what and how I shoud make something. And then I let the elements and materials guide me. Such a personal relationshp with these things is my solace.

Find beauty in the little things and you will find contentment. Open your senses to look, smell and feel the wonder of nature and the myriad of things that she has to offer and you will not need to look for anything else. All you need is right tlhere, right now should you be willing to look.

Should you be willing to look at pictures of LARP'ers then click on the picture and go through to Flickr and wonder at the collection of Jedi Knights and Elves underneath!

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