Following my foray for more materials, I now have the final figure – the cross- country skier layout planned. This one is a bit more difficult with moss covered bark for the figure, and skis and ski poles that are more 3 dimensional than the bark pieces.
I also decided to move the rope down a few inches. It acts as the surface for the figures and I believe holds the composition of the group together.
Set about affixing the skier on a bright but cool morning, and it did take longer than the others to fix firmly onto the fence.
As I was working several people stopped to chat, including an Australian couple who said they had enjoyed seeing the figures develop over the past 10 days, and that the cyclist was their favorite. Always good to know.
I explain to everyone that the installation will only last as long as the materials and then will literally go away, and I think viewers find that intriguing “I must make sure my children see it..” as one woman runner remarked.
“That art should be permanent or impermanent is not the issue. Transience in my work reflects what I find in nature and should not be confused with an attitude towards art generally. I have never been against the well-made or long-lasting.”
Goldsworthy.A (1990) Andy Goldsworthy: A collaboration with Nature.
I now have some materials for the heads- at last. I want to keep them simple and schematic so they do not detract from the texture and color of the rest of the figures. It would be so easy to embellish and get rather fussy, and I really don’t want that.
As I work on the pieces I am finding that each figure interacts with the entire group, and adds something new to the whole piece. I am finding that I’m spacing them out more than I originally thought and they are becoming a little larger. I have space for this and maybe the encouragement I have had from passers by has made me more confident?
Have had a couple of responses to my request for comments by e-mail. Here is one:-
“I walked by your fence for the first time in a week and when I came up to the art on your fence, I had to pause and smile, it is so subtle and pleasant, just blends in….And then more was added since yesterday so I anticipate the next and next additions. I will never look at the bark in our wood pile in the same way again, in fact, picked up two pieces of bark from our driveway, that you may consider for future additions! “
Went down to the woods to search out and bring back more and different materials. There is plenty of dead wood and bark available. Hurricane Sandy hit this area in October 2012, and many, many trees came down. The wood is now rotting from those fallen trees but the bark remains and some has moss and lichen on it – some nothing; there is a great variety.
Not much time for the installation today – but I managed to fit the dog with a tail.
Met a couple who walk the street each day, who said they now look forward to seeing what I’ve done. They offered to help me document the work, and we agreed the heads of these figures should not be ‘too realistic’. I have made one head cutting bark into a circle – for the cyclist and that seems to work.
Ran into a neighbor who has a good saw, so may try some circular wood discs as prototype heads, with his help in cutting thin slices.
I decided to bravely place a sign against the fence saying this was work in progress and to e-mail me with any comments. We shall see if anyone responds.
Worked on the runner and completed laying in of the arms. I tried to video myself placing these bark pieces, but the clip ended up being a great view of my rear (mostly) – I will need to edit it fiercely!
Then started on the cyclist figure, using a different bark type. For the bicycle wheels, mini-wreaths of ivy may work, I shall probably have to replace them if they dry out– but weather is so much cooler now I don’t think it will be a problem.
Life goes on while I am working on the site
More passers by stopped to talk about the project and I had offers of bark and a suggestion that the local paper should know what I’m up to. Really not ready for that yet..
A long walk in the woods collecting materials- and found some good highly ridged Locust tree bark for a figure and other bark that is the beginnings of skis for the cross-country skier.
Still thinking about what to do for the heads of the figures. Bark is so brittle, I won’t be able to make any kind of head like sphere, but I need to experiment. However, I am progressing and learning that once I started in on this, problems could be solved as I went along.
” …consider an avant garde that in the years since minimalism has been deeply suspicious of beauty, craftmanship, formal directness, and the absence of irony, and we have the makings of a critical climate chilly to artists of Goldsworthy’s kind.”
(Beardsley, J. (2010) in Foreword to “The Andy Goldsworthy Project” Thames and Hudson.
After a lot of rain I was keen to see if the test pieces held up on the fence- and they did!
But the wire I am using to tie on these first pieces is too prominent and needs replacing.
Here is my working area with tools and sketchbook. I need the sketchbook to be sure I am cutting the correct proportions and trimming to more or less correct angles for the joints. It’s inevitably all a bit rough and pieces drop off when you least expect or want them to.
Worked today on pieces of bark for the Runner figure, and chose a different texture and form for this figure, no moss on the bark and fairly uniform color.
John my husband helped by holding the trunk of the Runner against the fence while I ran round the back of the fence to knot the fishing line I am now using to tie these pieces on. This line is thinner and less obtrusive than the line I started with.
Two cyclists who are both at the IAS stopped to talk, they regularly cycle the street and will keep an eye on developments.
I learned: Need to be flexible with materials – keep an eye out for texture and the feel of different surfaces.
Have collected some materials lying around in the woods, mostly bark of various types, and seeds (see above).
Cutting the bark requires care- using sharp tools (I filled out a risk assessment form) and wear gloves. It is physical work even on bark.
Initial test pieces on fence
Cutting bark on rear patio
As a test I started making the dog and its owner. Then mounted them on the fence, realizing the need to make the ties at the back of the fence each time as reef knots not granny knots that pull out!
The process proved to be a topic of conversation with passers-by several of whom walk this street regularly. This surprised me but is part of this area being one where people come to relax, there is no bustle.
Gerda (elderly German lady) was keen that the dog have a tail (it will), and 3 graduate students from the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) who walked by said they thought the dog must have a lead/leash. (There are fierce requirements for this posted in the local woods – so the humor is not lost!).
The man who helps in our garden, works with a Haitian colleague and said he thought I was making voodoo. All of these conversations were fun and interesting, and I asked each of them to ‘watch this space’ as the site develops.
I learned: It’s all in the eye of the beholder, and details often really matter.
Starting into this project, which is a public art piece using found natural materials, a web site with an interesting range of artists is the women environmental artists directory see: http://weadartists.org/, (even though I rarely find explicitly ‘women in’ groups especially interesting).
There I found Barbara Roux (http://www.barbararoux.com/) who describes herself as “..an artist dealing with issues of ecology, I am a hybrid. My installation projects are influenced by my conservation projects to protect habitats and record incidents in natural history. My conservation efforts stem from my respect and fascination for the natural world.”
While Barbara does not seem to have outdoor public art installations (such as the small one I am experimenting with) in her current portfolio, I like the relationship she describes between conservation, low /no impact works and her connection with natural history. This resonates with me.
Here is a sketch of my site for my site specific installation that will be along our fence, –
I have now sketched out the figures I plan to depict – using very simple stylized forms as a base – these are also international
A walker with a dog, a runner, a cyclist, another walker and a cross-country skier all placed on a coarse rope to ground the piece. Various questions arise on making the installation as per my sketchbook comments such as:
++ Do I need to space the figures out more?
++ Different materials and texture and color for each activity?