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?

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