Complementing a natural environment using the inherent qualities of a material.

Light energy like water falling was something I worked hard to create. I tried to take as much tension out of the sculpture as possible.

I wanted to create a sense of height variation and a harmonious link with the environment so that it would seem time said it belonged here.

This is an area of my garden at home. As my garden is part of rural woodland there are a lot of areas that are left to naturally evolve with very little intervention. This isn' t just due to laziness on my part as I do maintain the main garden areas but I leave areas for widlife to inhabit and find that a great pleasure. In this area in the photographs there is a tawny owl that regularly visits and several other birds that are not commonly seen. The fact that the undergrowth is abundant and organic, provides a rich place for all sorts of insects and small mammals.

I approached this area for my textile module from the perspective of how nature when left uncultivated and without human intervention naturally and elegantly evolves into interwoven shapes and structures that are amazingly intricate and beautiful. When first encountering wool and textiles I had this same feeling of the material being very natural (as it is) and it having this incredible organic quality that remained there despite elements of man made processing. I felt a resonance between these natural spaces and the inherent quality of the wool and in particular with the untampered undergrowth and the twigs, vines, ivy, and branches that merged into naturally elegant patterns.

When touching wool I found it had a natural way it wanted to move and fall and it almost spoke to me in the sense that when I tried to cajole it into my way of thinking it often reacted against my ideas and came up with its own more interesting solutions. I found it a material that I readily connected with emotionally and one that I felt I wanted to liberate from the formal structures of mass intervention and styling into particular garment shapes and forms. I felt wool and textiles would reward by allowing it to return to unconcious organic states and to allow it to move and interact as it naturally wanted to. It felt like a silent dance of sorts which when flowing well was foot perfect but when one tried to impose a will too strongly the synchronicity bewtwen myself and the materials qualities were lost and the wool (textile) became a clumsy weight and I become a baffled partner.

The important thing for me in this sculpture was to have a finished work that had a presence in the natural space that would appear naturally elemental. I also wanted to create a sense of matching time spans so that the sculptural structure would appear to belong as part of the same time world of its surroundings and not a sudden intervention. I selected the colours and textures of my wools carefully with these aspects in mind.

I built using variations in height so that the wool and textiles appeared to be growing up from the ground and thus they would give the impression of naturally evolving upwards like the surrounding environment. I wasn't so much intereste in the scale of the piece but rather in a harmonious balance of surrounding relationships between the materials size and that of the environment containing it. I wanted there to be a symmetry but not an obvious one. This took a lot of planning so that it apperead neither too small or too large.

I chose two colours one was a wood brown with a lighter fawn mixture and the other was a soft cream. I went for the very light colour as this was an exceedingly dark area of the garden and one has to be very close to the sculpture itself to see the brown wool intermingling between the branches. In order so this would work photographically I needed a strong empathetic colour to emphasise the overall outline of the form. I chose a cream colour as it could reflect cobwebs for example or a woven large web.

I have made a separate video of this piece which I will post that shows somewhat more clearly the links between the interweaving undergrowth and the sculpture itself and subsequently what drove my initial fascination with the idea.

It was a complex piece to make so that it fitted the movement of the eye around the natural swirls and variations in the space. In the second photograph I am happy that I have created that effect from that viewpoint. There is a circular harmony in the sculpture that feels pleasingly unforced and which matches the circular nature of the opening to the sky. The top photograph was chosen for its reflection of the delicacy of the material and how it seemed to create a sensation of floating for me.

It was a difficult space to work in and to remain sensitive to. There were many opportunities to create artificial drama but I feel in the main I stayed true to the natural environmental energies present. With all human intervention into natural spaces this is always hugely difficult and having spent time with this piece I admire much more the sensitivity to nature of artists such as Andy Goldsworthy. This was a very tiring piece of work and emotionally draining. I intend to leave it in place and see what weather and time may do to it and see if birds etc interact with it at all, which would be a wonderful nod of approval I feel.

 

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