Today was to have been the finale of the Hart Of the Woods Project. Instead, the project is on hold until we are all able to get out and about, and people are able attend Outdoor events again. Instead, we are sharing images and films from the project. Check out https://www.instagram.com/hart_of_the_wood We are: to Ben Wigley (Artdocs) , Nathaniel Robin Mann, Lisa Knapp, Martin Sommerville, Sian Allen and the National Trust folks at Comer Woods, Dudmaston, Shropshire.
These are the finished Red Deer Headdresses I have made for the project.
Started back in March, these three have been my principal companions over the past three months during the CV19 lockdown. And fine companions they have been to sooth my soul. They have inspired me to make archeological and folkloric investigations, drawings and prompted dreams.
Looking forwards to the time when they will be able to leave the studio and take their place out there, in the magical world of Art and Nature on this Midsummers Day.
I have been in working in collaboration with Richard T.Frost to make three wooden replicas of ‘The Canterbury Jade Axe’ (British Museum). These have been made to be handling objects, to be shown together with a large charcoal drawing, which may be included in an exhibition planned for 2021.
Elm from Tim , White Walnut from Rosie & Black Walnut from Tim
Many hours in the making. Several days for Richard to carve then two weeks for me to sand and polish, using boiled linseed oil, seven coats of oil based varnish, polished with rotten stone, raw linseed oil and red earth to finish.
These artefacts are yet again a manifestation of my meditations on the human impulse to make stuff, the creative urge. Many years ago I was horrified to see in an exhibition, some ‘Sculptures for the Blind’ by Brancusi, displayed inside a prospect box! These three pieces are designed to be handled, to be not just something to look at but also to be something beautiful to touch. Hand and Eye in collaboration.
Yes, they have metaphoric resonances but my continuing rumination’s are taking me somewhere else. As I develop the drawing , started but expected to develop over the next few months, I hope to find that ‘where’.
Embarking upon a new line of enquiry. This continues my meditations on the human impulse to create, to make, to alter and adapt materials. To imbue material objects with meaning beyond their practical usage.
The starting point this time comes from this Jade Axe , found near Canterbury, U.K. Now a part of the British Museum collection. See Chapter 14, in ‘The History of the World in 100 Objects’ by Neil MacGregor.
What I am intrigued by is the fact that this was never a practical axe. Its purpose was inherent in its beauty, its meaning, its geographies and its biography. Add to that mix now, it’s antiquity (Between 4000 – 200 BC).
The stone has been identified as coming from a specific boulder in the Italian Alps, then was probably fashioned in Southern Brittany before travelling though to the British Islands. Extraordinarily, there is another axe, found in Dorset, which comes from the same boulder but maybe made at a different time. The two art objects made centuries apart, evidence of the longevity of a tradition.
Is this an indication of a trade being a way of maintaining relationships between distant peoples, of cementing obligations, ideas and culture?
I shall be drawing, and carving wood. The wooden versions will have to be beautiful to touch as well as to look at. To engage all the senses.
I am thinking already about the planned exhibition at The Willoughby Trust Gallery in 2021.
Making a mask / head-dress for ‘Hart of the Wood’ . This is to be a stags head with intimations of Green Man.
Film making in collaboration with ‘Artdocs’.
All will be revealed in due course.
2019 has been the year of working with Andy Barret on a transitions project based upon the 1620 House in Hugglescote, Leicestershire. We were a part of a larger project, looking at ways in which this wonderful Medieval House (which was modernised in 1620 with New Windows) can be utilised to enhance children’s learning experience. The great discovery has been of Sir Kenelm Digby (who’s sister lived in the house). Why had I never heard of him before? A Man of his times, a child of one of the Gun Powder conspirators, he grew to become a proto-scientist, diarist, glass technologists, foodie, art collector and privateer. The whole project has b een a delight and the 120 children we have worked with have been great companions on this journey of discovery.
I played the part of a ‘phenomenologist’ looking back at how the structure of experienced might have been perceived at the time. Through the senses, Smell, Taste, Sound, Sight and Touch we relived the 17th century experience and made many experiments and created art works and writings to see how these have impacted upon modern empirical science. Sounds dry but in fact was lots of fun. Sad that part is all over. Next step, to write it all up with recommendations as to how the activities might be used in the future.
This week I have mainly been building a ship.
1620 ‘Caravel’ Merchant Vessel
Struggling to find a title for this. It is inspired by and referencing William Blake, also by Duncan Grant and some of my own paintings from the 1980’s when I was living in France. Still being part of my meditation on this ageing process upon myself as a ‘gay’ person making art.
In collaboration with Nottingham City Council (Libraries and Parks) and ‘Curious’ and a range of artists, yoga, musicians, storytellers and visual arts for children and families. Outdoor activities for the summer holidays in five sites across the city. MI have facilitated masks-making sessions have been in my own local Park at Woodthorpe. It has been most gratifying to witness the diversity of families who have come along. This being the UK, the weather always poses a risk but , so far, only on one day have we had to relocate into a poly-tunnel.
Different stories have been used to lead each week , ‘Alice in Wonderland’ Wild Animals and ‘The Gruffalo ‘have been the themes of the 3 weeks I have been a part of the project. The library service have provided a selection of related books to suit a range of ages, so that there is something that families can access every day, even when there is no artist facilitating activities.
Well done Nottingham, showing imagination and co-ordination between different departments to give services where there is a need.