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?