Roughtalley's Wood 2002
Location : Roughtalley's Wood, North Weald Bassett, Essex
Materials : English Oak
Commissioned by: English Nature/Epping Forest District Council

Back in 2001, English Nature’s Wildspace Grant enabled Epping District Council's Countrycare to commission me to coordinate an interpretation project for the woodland. I was asked that one element should take the form of a bench and that this should be installed within the LNR. The second part was to involve the local community through a programme of workshops, site visits and talks. The project was devised to attract the public of all ages into this ancient woodland for their recreation and wellbeing. In the end the project incorporated two pieces for the wood, visits and talks at two nearby Residential Homes for the Elderly, and two schools residencies.

 

The bulging tree form of Bequeath is dissected vertically, revealing its life within. Ten creatures found living in Oak woods are carved within the "hollows" inside the cut trunk. This piece reveals something of the fragile and complex heart of the woodland, the overlooked, unseen and hidden, and asks questions of our care over the legacy left to us.

 

 

Nature is in a state of continuous transition. The idea behind Becoming is to suggest this continual state of flux. Becoming presents vertical, ascending forms - encouraging the viewer to look up. Carved elements, which include chrysalises of two woodland butterflies (Speckled Wood and Purple Hairstreak), depict life in a state of development and potential. At either end of the seemingly floating horizontal seat element, a Hornbeam tree has been planted. In time the trees will grow into the concave ends, thus integrating the living trees with the static seat; the living with the constructed.

 

 

Associated Schools Residencies

Locations : North Weald Bassett Primary School & Thomas Willingale Primary School, Nr Epping, Essex

Both schools were included as part of a project funded by English Nature to raise awareness of, and encourage the public into a Local Nature Reserve. I organised and ran a week long residency in each school, linking to my work at the nearby Roughtalley's Wood.

Both residencies took the same form, engaging year 3 pupils through the whole design process, with the aim of creating a living sculpture made from combining a constructed and carved sculpture in wood (English Oak), with selected plants. I wanted the children to consider how art and nature could combine.

This project raised issues and considerations around development and transformation. It encouraged the children to sense the gradual progressive changes in nature, including growth and decay, the cycles of nature and how we could work with nature through care and nurturing.

The children and I collaborated to arrive at a number of designs. These were then developed as a class, to arrive at the final design. Part of the work was for the children to imagine how the work would change over the coming years. As part of this exploration, a number of large scale 2D artworks were created, showing anticipated changes and development to the sculpture through the seasons. These were displayed in the school as a series.

I worked in the school setting shaping and carving large sections of oak. All the children involved did some 'hands on' carving of the work. The children from both schools selected native fruit trees to grow alongside the carved oak pieces and the works were installed along with the trees at the end of the week.