Usually sampling means testing a technique or experimental way of making an item, in this instance I have modified that to mean experimenting with a way of making an imagining real. I didn’t actually make anything new, I used samples from earlier parts of MMT but I did take them outside to experiment with the vision I have of fitting my future pieces into a specific environment.
I wanted to get an feel for sizing; will I need to make large pieces to get the right effect? How does the natural light impact and how can I work with it to take photographs that will translate well at assessment? Have I got the confidence to stand out in the open making art? And, the really difficult one, does my idea have potential, does it work?
I decided not to ‘make’ my samples in the venue that I have chosen for the final pieces; I didn’t want to over use the place and lose the magic of anticipation. If my samples work then I want to be enthused not left feeling that I’d done it all before.
In the end I went to Haughmond Hill on the outskirts of Shrewsbury. I walked for a good long while with my rucksack of samples, looking for a suitable spot. I wanted somewhere that was already enchanting, somewhere slightly out of the ordinary.
Finally after much searching and a stop for a rest I thought, bugger it! Just have a go!!
On the hill there is a lovely lookout with some very pleasing stone obelisks. I had a play with placing one of my wrappings on and in one of the stones.
This was fine but it’s more using the backdrop to better display the piece rather than the environment being part of the art work.
I continued walking, with 2 very happy dogs; they love the walk at Haughmond and found a small grove of trees I quite liked. Here I tested some different ways of placing the wrapping amongst the many branches, in the final pieces I would like the wrapping to include and be intertwined with the actual branches.
Light was a huge problem; shadows would almost obliterate the wrapping and it was difficult to find the exact place where there was sufficient contrast of sunshine to shadow and tree (natural) colour to the brights of the ribbons and balloons.
Careful selection of a site for the final piece will be required and the use of photo editing to enhance the resulting images.
I continued on looking vainly for the root of a fallen tree, in the end I came across a tree with a big section gouged out just above the root. There were lots of little crevices and hook like protrusions to work with.
First I tested out placing the joined trash. My plan (vision) is to place similar item in the twists of a tree root to replicate the images I see, often when driving, of takeaway cartons that have been deliberately thrown from car windows or carelessly lost by being blown out of over loaded bin and off picnic tables that have finally been trapped by hedgerows and tree roots.
Here the contrasts of natural/manmade worked really well. The items that I added to the cans and cartons are to replicate the way that nature soon tries to subsume these alien items into its world; plants grow up through the gaps, shots push through and seeds and fallen leaves fill the wells of the cups and tubs.
If I decide to continue with this idea them I would like to add more natural embellishments.
The wrappings worked much better in this place, they slotted into the gaps and started to looked like they were part of the backdrop. That sense of them having growth there rather than placed there was starting to develop.
I particularly liked this image with the balloon wrapping fitting almost flush into this gap but I have decided that this idea still works best in the jumbling twists and turns of tree branches.
This little hanging that’d bought as an after thought also worked well with some good contrasts. I’ve still not decided if it’s going to make it into the final pieces, that I’m still ruminating on.
The final wrapping is the most beautiful and that surprised me. I thought I was looking for contrasts; the shock of the plastic against the beauty of tree bark and leaves. That’s certainly what works for my brief, it is what I’m aiming for, but regards beauty this placing is the one that works best. The result is more subtle, more pleasing to the eye.
The dilemma now is beauty over brief? Aesthetic over impact? Can I balance the 2 things? That’s the challenge here. My message is that nature can and will subsume, breakdown and eventually eliminate our thoughtless littering and tipping and she’ll do it beautifully. But and this is a huge but, at what cost? At what point does the natural world become over stretched and worn out by this constant bombardment? When does it become so chocked that it can’t function as it should and it turns all eyes onto eliminating and subsuming these alien invaders, will we survive through this? When the water is poisonous to us, but nature has evolved to deal with it; through the creation of new species that can thrive in tough places but we haven’t kept up or evolved in time. We depend on this environment as it is, we need it to survive so why are we hell bend on draining, covering, littering and raping it to the point of breakdown, it’s beyond me.