Tuesday, 30 October 2012

the secret of youth

Left my foraging ways behind in favour of urban forestry last weekend as I collected lime wood for making what I’m hoping will be a series of kinetic sculptures.  It will involve balancing wooden spirals (larger scale versions of the one pictured below) on an axis and have the wind spin them. More on this on a future post on this blog, meanwhile back to pruning, or rather pollarding…  

My good friend Marcelo, who I’ve worked with on the Weaving Time Machine sculptures helped me collect the wood that Jack (pictured up the tree) felled with his handy chain saw.  It was impressive to see him hoist himself up, make a few expert cuts, and see all these branches fall down all around us before hopping to the next tree.  We were kept really busy at ground level sawing, pruning and stacking the wood to make room for more branches to come down.  So much destruction, such a thrill… Spooky!

Pollarding makes trees live longer apparently and encourages new growth as their tops are not subjected to so much windage and weight.  Trees are effectively kept in a juvenile state. Fabiane, whose garden the limes we were in was complaining about the secretions from the trees spoiling the laundry she leave out to dry.  It sounds like in a couple of years' time the leafy teenagers will be giving her yet more trouble!  Still, on the upside, there will be plenty more lime tree blossoms to collect to make soothing infusions (linden tea), and sipping these rejuvenating brews, the sticky laundry won’t seem such a problem anymore I’m sure.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

land art / man made

A good work is the right thing in the right place
at the right time - Richard Long
dailymade #120905

Prompted by my recent foraging and weaving activities last week (see previous post) and a proposal I am working on at the moment for a show at the Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery, I am looking at dailymades produced in the Calanques in Marseille six weeks ago. Reading Land Art  by Ben Tufnell at the time framed my thinking.  My concern was this: making a direct response to site and found materials through weaving and other related processes. Rather than expand on this, I’d like to let the images below and quotes from the land art masters themselves do the speaking.

dailymade #120901
dailymade #120913

‘One of the problems in sculpture is contact, the idea alone isn’t enough, it doesn’t work, an action is necessary. This action is transmitted through contact.’ - Giuseppe Penone

dailymade #120912
dailymade #120909
‘My art is a way of learning, in which instinct guides best.  It is all very physical – I need the shock of touch, the resistance of place, materials & weather, the earth as my source. It is a collaboration, a meeting point between my own and earth’s nature’ - Andy Goldsworthy

dailymade #120829
dailymade #120826

‘Work is not in the place, it is the place.’ - Michael Heizer

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Stave Hill study day

Back at Stave Hill Ecological Park last week with a group of first year 3D design students from Camberwell College of Art.  I suggested going there only recently to my Intelligent Trouble collaborators but they didn’t take to it, so it was good to go there on a bright and sunny autumnal day and do some making with my students. 

twining with spindle and willow and rosehips

The day started with Rebecca Clark, who  runs the team at Stave Hill, giving us a tour of the park and pointing out plants we could use  to weave with.  Much coppicing has happened there since my last visit there and the park looked very different.  The hops were high and provided plenty of flexible and lengthy material to weave with.  They proved handy to split too.  Wish I’d taken a picture of these... 

weaving a stool with hedgerow materials

The idea was for the students to make interventions on site.  However, following an active foraging session, a purposefully short introduction to cording and twining and a cup of tea, they all got stuck in and produced the various constructions illustrated here.  We ran out of time to make our interventions. I’ll just have to plan a two day workshop next time so we have time to install things in situ and so  surprise joggers, dogwalkers and nature lovers who frequent the park.

twined hedgerow materials including brambles,
hops, cherry and willow

I deliberately kept the imparting of technical know how down to a minimum, so students had the chance to familiarise themselves with the materials they were using in their own way, and rely on their own specific ways of making and constructing.  Less information often means more in this case, and the feedback overall was very good at the end of the day.  Note to myself, I must do this more often...

plaiting with willow and cording with ash leaves