|the birth of architecture - wattle without the daub|
A winter bug prevented me from going coppicing at The Ranges in Shepperton a few Sundays ago. Big shame! It was a beautiful day, and I had big plans too! On my last visit I busied myself with cutting the last couple of year’s growth of Salix vinimalis with other volunteers. Sally Fletcher who owns the land and runs the project informed me on that occasion she planted around 20.000 willlow cuttings on the site 12 years ago, and this is what it looks like now below after annual coppicing.
During that cutting session I planted my own willow from the freshly cut prunings - see top picture. I had in mind the first buildings ever made, essentially baskets - sticks woven around stakes in the ground to create pens. The architect and historian Gottfried Semper in his essay ‘the four elements of architecture’ considered the relationship between weaving, textile and architecture, noting that the first architectural structures made by man defined space for the purpose of defence and protection. Working this ancient craft I laid the foundation for a circular 'yurt' shaped construction, with the live plant standing where the hearth would be, my own personal take on the circle as a symbol of unity, wholeness and the infinite.
Going to The Ranges again would have given me the opportunity to add to the single miniature ‘dwelling’ and possibly added to it towards the making of a small hamlet. Oh well, chose remise as they say! I shan’t be leaving it too long though as spring is near approaching and the plants will need this time to root before going into leaf if they are to grow into healthy specimens. I am a novice at growing willow but this much I know! I’ll keep you posted shortly on future willow works. In the meanwhile, this is to be remembered:
A is for architecture
B is for basketry
C is for coppicing
The three practices seem indeed to have been related since the origin of time.