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!

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