Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bark & Shadows

Bark & Shadows, originally uploaded by escher....

I've decided to learn some new skills over the winter months. There has been dew on the grass the past few mornings and the days do feel as if they are drawing in.

The early autumnal turners have started their colourful slide into winter. There a couple of trees I noticed last year who were early turners who are already changing their clothes.

I want to expand my art and what I am capable of and I am going to learn some new crafts and once mastered I hope to incorporate them back into the sculptures that I make.

As such I am going to post less land art on here for the time being and instead post more 'normal' photographs, as it were (just so that you don't forget about me ;-)). and limit the sculptures to perhaps once a month.

I expect I will go on producing them at the same rate but having more freedom will mean I can expand my ideas without concern about failure and I will also have lots of works to exhibit and publish that are as yet unseen.

The last few days, after I decided what I wanted to do, I went out to practice my photography without creating any sculptures and I was really pleased with how I got on. I have barely taken a picture that hasn't involved land art and my photography has developed hand in hand with my ability to sculpt.

So it was quite interesting to see how it had moved on in that time and a lot of fun to be free from the constraints of photographing my art.

I hope you like a little of what you'll see (and don't abandon me because I ain't showing you my sculptures!).

Beeches & Cream

Beeches & Cream, originally uploaded by escher....

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Oak Tendril

Oak Tendril, originally uploaded by escher....

Questions, questions, questions, a day full of questions.

Where have all the slugs gone?

And the midges? Where were they?

What is it with acorns exactly?

Why do I always put my underpants on back-to-front on Saturdays?

I am soon to finish my commission and I needed to practice today to help formulate the final idea. The person I am working for wants me to incorporate Maori culture into whatever I make, so I have chosen a fern tendril as the inspiration.

The first sculpture I made on this slab was what sparked the whole commission in the first place. I proposed to erect a slab in his garden and then cover it with mud so that the resultant sculpture would change and degrade over time. Something I am very interested in.

How my mud sculptures decay is always a surprise and their variability depends alot on the elements. I want to make sure that the commissioned sculpture will change but not too fast so that it can be enjoyed for a reasonable length of time so I've been umming and ahhing about what materials to use. Originally I decided upon birch bark but then changed my mind to rowan berries but I am still undecided. Having witnessed the decay of the rowan berries recently they might rot a bit too quick but I love the colours so much I am still undecided. I need to make my mind up soon.

As I trudged up the path again to one of my favourite spots, it was blustery and beginning to rain. Ahead of me a couple with a push chair and four kids under five were quickly donning jackets and zipping them up on the rug rats. As I approached one of them was having a good whinge whilst her mother exclaimed to her "where is your adventurous spirit? Look mummy's trousers are drying out!"

I smirked to myself and surmised that her adventurous spirit had slipped down the front of her wellies, along with the rain and her soggy socks. I am not sure I ever dreamed of climbing mountains aged four, my spirit of adventure involved playing army games and eating mud and worms.

Once I'd created the mud canvas my eyes were drawn to the thousands of tiny acorns carpeting the floor. I've become a bit obsessed by acorns recently and have wanted to do something with them. I am not going to use them for the commission but I couldn't resist using them today.

I collected a few direct from a tree so that they were still green and begun on the spiral design. Once I'd used up the few I'd collected I set off to look for some more.

Now I expected that all the mature oaks there would have some but I was wrong and only 10% had any of any use. I searched and searched and searched and couldn't find anywhere near enough to make a complete spiral so I had to space them out and I didn't like how it looked at all.

So what to do? I wasn't sure but I'd noticed some interesting variegated oak leaves when I'd been inspecting them all looking for acorns.

Gradually the idea started to come together and as it did half of what I'd done already was wrong so I had to go back and adjust. I had to do this several times. To retain the spiral shape in all the elements was tricky but it was important to keep it consistent or else the eye would be drawn to the mistakes.

Down on the forest floor many types of different fungi were growing. Large and small, purple, red and white and every colour in between. Normally this place is littered with slugs, many of them munching on fungi. And yet I didn't see any today.

The sculpture was a useful practice session for the commission as it helped me learn about and iron out some of the difficulties. But aside from all that, sat here in my back-to-front underpants, I am wondering just where did all the slugs go to?

Oak Tendril, originally uploaded by escher....

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rowan Berry Decay

Rowan Berry Decay, originally uploaded by escher....

Rowan Berry Swoosh - on the day it was made, 1 week later, 2 weeks later, 3 weeks later and 4 1/2 weeks later.

I've been back to visit the Rowan Berry Swoosh several times and it has been really interesting how it has decayed. After one week the colours remained, those that weren't deep in the mud fell out and slugs had been eating them. The next week the green was turning to orange. The week after that it had been sunny and windy and the mud was cracking and there was no green remaining. Finally this evening the very heavy rain of last week and the last couple of days is rotting the berries.

I find it interesting to chart the passage of time and how the elements have changed and affected what happens to it and to be given the opportunity to witness all of that through one of my sculptures. If it had been sunny the whole time or wet the whole time the result would have been different. Nothing ever repeats itself, nature is always changing, what may appear to be the same is always subtly different and nuanced. You can never stand in the same river twice and I am entranced by how Mother Nature sculpts what I have made every microsecond of the day.

The Slugs Have Moved In

The Slugs Have Moved In, originally uploaded by escher....

A week later the slugs couldn't resist (or miss) my vibrant treat.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

7 Coloured Sand Circles

7 Coloured Sand Circles, originally uploaded by escher....

I went back to the beach today this time with my partner in crime. She works on Saturdays and when she got home yesterday evening she looked at my photos on flickr and said "been to Heysham have you?" Lips protuding into an exagergated pout. "You know it is one of my favourite places?"

"And I lovely day it's been too" I replied furiously digging a deep hole.

So off we went again this morning, blue skies and sunshine and no more pouting to find the tide just on its way out again.

I wasn't planning on making anything so I headed straight for the water, off with the shoes and socks, rolled up the trouser legs and in for a paddle. A bit chilly at first but quite nice after a bit. I had the urge to go for a swim but didn't have the right attire which might have been better for everyone in the end.

We had a go at some Goldsworthy sand throws and I did a good job of pelting myself with wet sand before heading back to the cliffs to indulge in some other childlike pursuits.

The sculpture from yesterday was still there, perfectly intact. A small pebble had been placed on top and a closer look showed it to be heart shaped. I guess this was some sort of fan mail and I was quite touched at how someone wanted to communicate that what Dave and I made yesterday touched them and their day too.

Goldsworthy sometimes makes things with crushed up iron-rich rock, he colours pools or streams red with its deep blood-like hue. I knew that there was some of this to be found on this beach so yesterday I showed Dave where to look for this soft powdery stone. For quite a while I'd wanted to crush up some of the rocks here and make something with the powdery sand and thinking of the red stone yesterday had reminded me of this forgotten idea.

I searched for some pure coloured sandstone pebbles and bashed them into a powder before making circles on the cliff from where their shades come. I think that there are many more shades there than the seven I have displayed here and I will look forward to searching for them all on another day.

I thought I may have been done with creating on the beach. I prefer organic matter and growth and find those things more interesting these days. But it seems there is much more to do yet and Heysham Head is one of the places that is inspiring and hard to resist.

7 Coloured Sand Circles, originally uploaded by escher....

Purple Sand Sun

Purple Sand Sun, originally uploaded by escher....

I was going to call this the "holy stone of Clanricarde" but I'd expect that would get lost in translation somewhat. It'd be nice if it did get upgraded to a class 2 relic though...

Down with this sort of thing

Purple Sand Sun, originally uploaded by escher....

Homage to Goldsworthy - Sand Throw

Someone Left Their Heart

Someone Left Their Heart, originally uploaded by escher....

The shelter had protected the rock balance overnight, it was completely intact when we returned to have a look this morning. Someone had definitely seen and appreciated it as they had left a heart shaped stone on top. I was quite touched.

The shelter has done its job

The shelter has done its job, originally uploaded by escher....

The rock balance had survived the night beneath its shelter. I wonder how long it will last?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Heysham Rock Balance Shelter

Heysham Rock Balance Shelter, originally uploaded by escher....

So what did I learn today?

Well, something quite useful actually. That it's possible to eat cold pasta with two pencils.

I started the day a little bit pickled from the night before, shcatter-brained and dishorganished.

Dave - he who do the MA about Decay - was accompanying me again and I hadn't made my mind up where we should go. For once I knew what I wanted to create and I would rope Dave into help but I couldn't decide where. We would need stone and the first option has some great stone but sadly I'm banned from doing anything there, the next two are next to rivers but the very heavy rain of yesterday would probably mean they would be too high to gather enough material.

So just as Dave arrived I checked the tide and it would be at its height in an hour and half.

We arrived on the coast and the tide was still high but fortunately I had left my camera behind so a return journey home and back to the bay would mean our second arrival to the bay would be timed with it just starting to recede. Perfect.

Along with that the sun was shining and the sky was blue, not what we were expecting and not what the weatherman said. Even better.

I've been putting together another proposal for a commission and the ideas I am pursuing are to do with the fragility of our existence and the possibility that we have reached a tipping point where our actions (or perhaps lack of the right ones) may end up in our own demise. 2010 so far has had the highest global temperatures on record and whether or not you believe that this is man-made or a natural fluctuation of earth temperatures, in my opinion is missing the point.

Human beings have spread far and wide and taken all that they can from the earth in order to feed our addiction to needing stuff and to be able to increase our ability to survive, to protect ourselves from our environment, to keep our families safe and well. But as we've persued these needs with have funnelled ourselves into a trap where our collective future is now uncertain. We talk about saving the planet but that is rot. If we truly wanted to save the planet then it'd be better off if we all disappeared. No, what we really mean when we say we want to save the planet is we want to save our own skins.

In order to represent this I am going to create a series of shelters containing rock balances, seal them up so that the fate of each delicate sculpture is unknown unless you look within. Just as our lust to better ourselves, to protect ourselves from the world and to have a better chance of survival has ripped all the finite resources from our planet and delivered us to a place where this quest has left us with an uncertain future. Will we be able to shelter from what our earth will throw at us now if our climate tips out of control? Will our delicate existence continue or will it collapse like a stack of pebbles and rocks?

There is much more to this project but I don't want to reveal it all now.

Anyway back to the important business of the day:-

My camera wasn't the only item I'd forgotten. When I sat down to eat some lunch I realised I didn't have a fork. I thought that I might be able to whittle one out of driftwood but that might need more calories than the pasta might contain. I looked through my bag and found a pair of scissors and some thorns. Nope, that wasn't going to do it. How about I just stick my face in the food and eat it like a pig? I probably would have done if I'd been on my own. I know, why not use two pencils as chopsticks? They were actually easier to use than normal chopsticks. So if in doubt make sure you always have two pencils with you. Or else you might go hungry.

Dave built the left wall and I built the right hand one. We found some driftwood for the roof and it was now ready for the sculpture to be built within. I tried several times to get the first few layers up but I couldn't sense where the centre of gravity was without being able to stand above it and all I ended up with was backache and a feeling of frustration.

We took down the roof and I begun again. This time, still with effort and much searching for the right stones, I got it to stand. Gingerly we replaced the roof, being careful not to drop anything into the chamber and stood back to review what we had done. Originally I'd wanted to extend the sides and brick up the entrance but I thought it was fine just as it is.

I wonder how long it will last?

Heysham Rock Balance Shelter, originally uploaded by escher....

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Holly Leaf Colour Reflections

Holly Leaf Colour Bar, originally uploaded by escher....

Only time for a short one.

Today was a remarkable day. The sun shone all day and is still shining. It was very warm and the sun strong. This should be normal in mid-summer but it is probably the first day in 6 weeks where I live where it has been so.

It was remarkable that today the midges came out in droves and were biting. This shouldn't be remarkable but I have barely seen them this year. Where have they been? It is a summer hazard in Britain that you WILL get bitten by midges. But today was the first time this year I have been. Odd.

The hills were remarkable today. The heather is in full flower and the combination of their purple flowers and the strong orange, red and lime green leaves of the billberries, both covering huge swathes of the hillsides, played a pschedelic scene on the senses. It's like a broken telly where the colour has been adjusted wrongly. It is quite a sight to see.

As I went to sleep on Friday night an idea popped into my head. I put the light on and scribbled out my thoughts on my bedside pad. Yesterday I went out to make something but as I walked to a favourite place my head was sparking left, right and centre with the idea that I had. As I walked I thought of more and more and ended up going home to furiously doodle in my sketch pad as my mind raced with exciting new ideas. I went out again later but my creative river had run dry so I ended up making nothing.

But as I walked yesterday I passed a holly tree with the most enthralling purple and red leaves. I knew that I would have to go back today and use them for something.

As I looked harder and harder and became absorbed in understanding this tree, more and more colours leapt out of the void.

I pinned together some dried grass stalks upon which to display the leaves. I found a spot where the sun hit strongly yet there was shadow behind and set up the bar to show off the colours. I would never have believed holly produced these colours and I am surprised by what I found.

I always overlooked holly as drab, too spiky and something only for Christmas. But their lustrous leaves, vibrant colours and the white halo that outlines the green leaves in the sun is something to behold. Working with holly has shown me that there is a huge diversity in size, shape, colour and spikiness of the leaves.

Never dismiss something as drab until you really look with open eyes. You might be missing something.

Holly Leaf Colour Bar, originally uploaded by escher....

Holly Leaf Colour Bar, originally uploaded by escher....

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Chase the Setting Sun Wheel

Chase the Setting Sun Wheel, originally uploaded by escher....

For those short on time (or attention spans!) here's the short version. I chased the sun for two days to get this. I hope it was worth it! The hover fly landed on each circle enticed by the colours. I thought that was pretty cool.

For those with too much time on their hands here's the 12" director's cut:-

This sculpture has brought a more - close-up - detailed examination of patterns of the weather than I really would have liked. I love to learn things about nature when I make something - that really is quite a lot of the point - but I do have to fit my life around these lessons so there has to be a limit!

I had a couple of days off this week. The first day I did the penultimate work to my commissioned sculpture ready for its completion and yesterday we had an extended mooch and then made this in the afternoon.

The day started fair and leaves and light felt enticing but by lunchtime the ever-present cloud was back. Ho-hum.

A few momentary gaps appeared allowing the sun to pierce through later in the afternoon and so I thought I might manage a picture or too.

I guess I started to feel like a leaf myself or perhaps a lizard or a snake. Perched on the earth my upper surfaces craving for the sunlight to strike me and fill me with its delicious warmth, bringing life and energy where there was none. Waiting desperately for the sun to find my square inch of the world.

Watching the clouds scud without expectation can be relaxing, meditative and induce a dreamlike state. But when you are waiting time slows to a stop and their movement seems incredibly ponderous. You really start to feel the time in between the ticks of the clock, tick and tock, moving ever forward.

On the local news the other night they said there was a chance that the Aurora Borealis could be seen in Northern England. So after dusk we went to sit up in the hills and we watched yet more cloud drift and the odd twinkling star appear in a rip in the patchwork but alas no northern lights. Yet more silent witnessing of the passage of our atmosphere.

The sun was still shining as I headed off to an interesting spot to capture the leaf circles in the sun but as I set it up I had time for a couple of shots before it was shrouded again. By the time it revealed itself again it had moved and I had to re-set up the shot as I wasn't happy with the fine sculptural details, the shape of the stalk holding up the frame, the postion of the circles and the background frame were just not right.

I expect some people may think I have the patience of a saint but that isn't the case at all. It's more that the little details annoy me and I have to perservere until they are right or I just can't rest. My eyes are drawn to the mistakes or anything that is uneven and so is everyone elses if I point them out to them. It just has to be right to my eye or I feel I have failed and it bugs me.

So I repositioned it and this next spot was even better. I just needed the sun that was revealing the colours as I was setting up to remain long enough for me to get back to my camera. Alas she was gone within seconds.

And so the long wait began.

I paced and paced and studied the sky. The patches of blue went nowhere near the sun and I became more impatient. A raptor squealed continuously in the tree canopy and passers by gawped at me until I stared back and they pretended they were pointing at something and not at all interested in the bloke hiding in the bush looking for the sun. I waited two hours and there was no sign and I had to be home for dinner. So I gave up. That has only happened a couple of times before.

The pictures came out okay and some of you had a sneak preview when I loaded them up last night and forgot to make the private (thanks for the comments ketztx4me and grand duchess) but I wasn't happy. Without the sunlight I craved they weren't right and I was going to have to try again.

But despite these frustrations this is what land art is all about. I have no desire to control nature or make her bend to my will (although if you could that would be pretty cool! But would result in your own destruction in a dark sorceror stylee pretty soon!). You get what you get. The materials that you find, the elements, the different seasons. This is what is so enticing.

So I kept the sculpture overnight. Made it wet to try and keep it from shrivelling, drying out and shedding all its thorns and went to bed praying for sunshine. But it wasn't over yet by a long shot.

This morning the sun shone and the sky was blue and I was much more hopeful. I thought my normal good luck had returned and I would soon have it in the bag.

I went back to the same spot of yesterday, before breakfast, but of course the sun would be at a different angle. I knew it would be but as the sun hadn't shone all day for ages I tried anyway. But of course I could not position the sun where I wanted. So I took some more pictures and they were nice too but they were not what I wanted.

I went back for breakfast and started work and sat looking out the window as the sun shone and shone and the intermittent clouds did not diminish her warmth.

I tried again at lunchtime but now the sun was too high. But I knew this and tried anyway but the lessons were having a hard time sinking in.

Finally the end of the working day was approaching and my excitement and trepidation grew. The sky was still blue and the sun still shining and I knew I would finally finish. I'd rebuilt the sculpture a couple times and replaced a wilted leaf or two and removed and reapplied some snapped brittle thorns. Surely now I could put this to bed.

As I stepped out the front door a huge black cloud hung ominuosly over the city to my right. Heavy with rain and towering miles up my heart sank as the blackness stretched from horizon to horizon.

Now I don't want to control nature as I said but this was really taking the pee! Did I need more lessons in clouds and atmospheric conditions? Perhaps I did.

I set off anyway and parked myself up in the hills overlooking the city as the lightning struck the ground, the ground rumbled with thunder and the blackness streaked to the ground in sheets of rain.

As it passed slowly southwards I could start to see the sun hitting the mountains across into Cumbria and the line of sunshine heading towards the county border crept slowly closer.

Each time the second hand clicked another fraction towards a new minute, time stopped as I willed the storm to pass. The more I tried the more slowly time passed but I could not distract myself from its painful passing.

After another couple of hours a shaft of light cut through the cloud and it was on and I dashed back to that spot once again.

As I approached I found a film crew filming a costume drama right next to where I wanted to be but too much waiting had instilled in me 100% determination. The place was right and the light was right and I was done.

I am reminded of the phrase 'be careful what you wish for' as I tried to instill some meaning into this sculpture. Following on from the # sun sculpture I made at the weeked I wanted to expand the idea and show more phases of the sun's passage.

In my efforts to depict the sun and incorporate its light into my sculpture I had chased it for two days. And above all it left me with a strong sense of insignificance in the face of the universe. My place within it is just like anyone elses: fleeting and a single cog amongst and infinity of others joined and turning together in a constant ever changing interconnected whole.

Chase the Setting Sun Wheel, originally uploaded by escher....

Chase the Setting Sun Wheel, originally uploaded by escher....

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Chase the Setting Sun

Chase the Setting Sun, originally uploaded by escher....

I've not been chasing the sun much recently as there has not been a sun to chase. It's been hiding behind a thick layer of cloud for weeks only punctuated by periods of damp drizzle.

I managed to get a picture of what I made yesterday in the sun but it was only dappled with its light for a few moments then it was gone again. Such as it has been for most of July and August. When it has appeared I've been working and I've looked longingly out the window wishing that I could indulge my passion for leaves on sticks, translucency and colour. But I've had to wait and wait and wait.

This is a practice piece for something else more involved that I have in mind and - I won't give too much away - but I want to depict the sun in different forms. I needed to investigate some leaf colours as preparation and collected some this morning under yet more grey cloud in the hope I could discover their sunshine induced colour.

Finally the sun made an appearance this afternoon so I dashed off with circles, reed grass and thorns to find a particular dappled spot amongst the trees. After stepping in yet more dog **** I found a suitable place.

Little did I know but the symbolism of the setting sun would be very apt. I found a spot in a very dark corner where just a few leaves were lit up deep beneath the canopy and as I got the circles positioned right in the light a cloud must have drifted across and the bright leaves went out like a lightbulb popping with a flash.

I tried again and the same thing happened. I tried once more and took just these two pictures and the sun was gone once again.

The clear sky punctuated with wisps of fluffy cloud had all but hazed over in just a few minutes. The sun's light was now soft and scattered and was not casting strong shadows and creating contrast like I craved for this sculpture.

It must be a specific atmospheric event. I've seen it happen before where all of a sudden the atmosphere is filled with thin cloud and the moisture thins the sun's rays into a watery haze. This was now set in and those few seconds when I managed to depress the shutter with the light piercing through the leaves was it. A chance moment snatched and then gone in an instant. A lot of my land art is just that. A snapshot of a moment when the height of vibrancy is reached and the colours come alive. There have been so few chances to see this over the last few weeks that I feel lucky to have grabbed this one.

So as the sun sets through thickening haze it's colour changes from white to yellow to orange until its final moments are witnessed in deep red before she is gone again until the next day.

Chase the Setting Sun, originally uploaded by escher....

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Sessile Oak Slab

Sessile Oak Slab, originally uploaded by escher....

Where does the phrase bushed come from? Does sitting in a bush make you tired? Will being beaten with an uprooted bush make you weary? I don't know so why are you asking? Put it this way. I am so tired that if I was attacked by one I probably wouldn't notice.

Funnily enough I was attacked by a bush once. Well really it was a man holding a bush, but you get the idea. We were walking along Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco and the man with the bush jumped out at me and I let out a girly scream. This was all the more embarrassing as the day before he did it to someone else and I claimed that he would never surprise me. So I guess my punishment for being such a big head was to not only get the fright of my life but also to let out a girly scream too.

Apparently it's a tourist attraction, the man with the bush that is not me screaming like a girl. Although if I could make a living out of it I'd probably give it a go. There was another guy begging further on from bushman and he had a sign that said "please give me a dollar, I don't need it to travel anywhere nor to buy a cup of tea, I just want to buy some booze and get loaded." I'm all for honesty in advertising so I expect you are wondering what all this has to do with land art?

Your guess is as good as mine.

I shared my land art excursion with three others today. A worm, a beetle and a bloke called Dave. They don't know each other, they came along separately. The worm emerged from the mud canvas and inched his way along the sculpture, the beetle scuttled across the leaves in a strident manner as though he was trying to lay claim to the sculpture by saying "mine!" And Dave is doing an MA.

He emailed me last week to ask if he could come out a-sculpturing with me some time. I said "sure, if you don't mind sharing the limelight with a worm and a beetle." He seemed to be okay with this so I squared the deal by offering him the opportunity to take pictures of me whilst I was covered in mud. If it catches on I might offer myself up for parties and barmitzvahs.

Just to be serious for second, as though that would be likely, Dave is studying an MA in decay. He is interested in finding out about how things change and degrade and thought my land art would be interesting.

Decay is a big part of nature. It is just a point in the whole cycle of life. Decaying matter becomes nutrients for the next new growth, before its death eventually comes around for the next round in life.

If I was to offer up some symbolism for this sculpture then I would say that the mud canvas is the nutrient rich food for all the new life and what the oak tree feeds on to grow and flourish. The leaves fall and rot onto the woodland floor and all their stages are present across the slab. The whole cycle of life is here.

Or as I said to Dave today: "well, that's one point of view, or to look at it another way. It's just some bloke using the excuse that he is making a 'serious' sculpture, to act like a kid and get messy and smear mud on a rock."

Sessile Oak Slab, originally uploaded by escher....

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Tree Project: Canvas & Wych Elm

A new month a new project.

The trouble with more involved sculptures is they take so much energy that I have little left to write anything to go along with it.

Two seven hour sessions in a row take their toll both physically and mentally and there probably is little chance of mustering humour or insights. So I'll just record what I need to about the new project and leave it at that.

But before I do that I want to tell you a story about a snail. I have several window boxes, outside the kitchen window, that I grow salad in. They are situated on top of a wooden table. A few months ago I found a big brown snail munching on my lettuce. So I picked him up and took him up to the top of the garden. A few days later another, or possibly the same snail, was back on the salad. This time I put a splodge of paint on his shell and took him back up the top of the garden.

Now my garden isn't large but in order for the snail to make it back to the salad he would need to negotiate three levels with 2.5 foot steps (our garden is on three tiers as it slopes), the bottom two being covered with pebbles. So he would need to get across 10 foot of grass, 20 feet of pebbles, 3 two and half foot steps and then finally up the wooden legs of the table. Well guess what? I found him again today munching my salad! It must be like crossing the Sahara or the South Pole for a snail! I am thoroughly impressed.

The new project is all about trees. I intend to learn all I can about them by making artworks that show their current state in certain places and then I will repeat the process at different times of the year with the same trees. Once I really get going I intend to chart the growing cycle of as many trees as I can around certain places so I can gain new insights into what they do throughout a year and how different trees of the same species in different places differ. I hope to come out of it with an even deeper love of trees and to pick up differences from year to year. It should be interesting.

I started at Middlewood in Roeburndale today and looked at half the species found at the water's edge in the clearing. The trees here are quite diseased in places and so my sculptures depict the conditions of those trees. I didn't search out prime examples of each tree as I normally might, instead I chose those right there and if their leaves were in a poor state then so be it. This is an art project researching real trees and as such depicts what I find. This first stage is being done in high summer when many leaves have already been ravaged by insects or diseases.

Tree Project - Session 1

Middlewood, Roeburndale, Lancashire. 1st August 2010 - High Summer.

Canvas: Sandstone river slabs platform and mud circle

Wych Elm: Four quadrants of the circle showing green leaves and three stages of decay. Whole leaves showing different hues both on the tree and fallen from it.

Sycamore: Paired sycamore seeds, two three pronged seeds and a six pronged mutant seed (I also found four and five pronged seeds). Growing leaf showed insect and disease, fallen leaf is very diseased. Leaf stalks showing green one side and red the other. No different coloured or faded leaves. No seeds or fruit.

Rowan: Leaves showing disease. Berries at varying ripenesses - red through to yellow. Some leaves yellow.

Oak: Leaves showing a little insect damage. Acorns beginning to grow, very tiny (perhaps 3-5mm across), placed in mud circle.

Ash: Ash seeds aplenty, leaves showing little damage. No different coloured leaves.

This might sound a little stuffy but this is all about setting myself this challenge so I can learn more about trees and leaves! I worked out that those are the plants I love working with the most and I really want to learn more about them hence the project. But don't worry I'll still be making cute little things on sticks and other stuff too!

Tree Project: Sycamore & Rowan

Sycamore: Paired sycamore seeds, two three pronged seeds and a six pronged mutant seed (I also found four and five pronged seeds). Growing leaf showed insect and disease, fallen leaf is very diseased. Leaf stalks showing green one side and red the other. No different coloured or faded leaves. No seeds or fruit.

Rowan: Leaves showing disease. Berries at varying ripenesses - red through to yellow. Some leaves yellow.

Tree Project: Oak & Ash

Tree Project: Oak & Ash, originally uploaded by escher...(back).

Oak: Leaves showing a little insect damage. Acorns beginning to grow, very tiny (perhaps 3-5mm across), placed in mud circle.

Ash: Ash seeds aplenty, leaves showing little damage. No different coloured leaves.