A story about a piece of land-art made along the canal.
While wandering along the towpath at the Middlewich Branch, you come along a nice pick nick area in a small strip of woodland. The local people call it the clay pit, i assume when they build the canals they used clay to seal the canals leaving some nice hollows.
Wandering through the shrubs my eye comes to rest on a Yellow Willow.
In the past somebody cut it down making it an interesting bundle of new growth. Willow is very good at this, whenever you cut Willow back, they will give you brilliant new branches ready for some weaving.
This particular Willow was not only giving me weaving material but also an idea to use the clay. Back down in the clay pit i test the clay, digging with my bare hands and forming it, does it hold.
Back at the tree the clay and the willow become tree art.
The silence of the wood was shattered by some howling. First what came to mind was a dog in distress which quickly became dogs followed by some fear and what the hack. It became clear by the sound of the horn it was a hunt.
I stayed hidden as i know a confrontation with these people is not appreciated and my mobile was not in my pocket just my camera. There was not much i could do by myself than making pictures and hide. It is still legal for them to hunt but not on a real fox, but how do you tell.
While i hide something was running through the woods, i stayed down, it was a single animal. It didn’t need me to scare it back into the field so i went very low to let it go.
My heart was pondering while helicopter and ultra light gliders circle above the field, apparently to protect the hunt. Now this made me mad. So the thing came to mind, a very British thing.
Stay calm and make some art.
shelter for the fox
So a new idea was born. The woods became on that moment the shelter for the fox or what ever other animal was getting away from the howling of the hounds.
The clay is perfect to make a sculpture, texture is a bit wild with many bits in it but it handles very well.
So a poem emerged written on slate that came from a beach in Pembrokeshire, the holes were made for a long poem that was never written. I took the box with slate to the boat for creating more smaller land art poems on our way along the canals. In a way all these poems will be connected to Pembrokeshire where my land art emerged out of gardening, therefor also the trees.
clay and slate
The poem was written on the pick nick table and in the cracks was some bird po with seeds in it. The clay slate didn’t really need the holes as this time i was not hanging them on some string. One of the seeds went into the hole.
The poem became something more it was going to grow. The seeds were from the dog-rose, a wild rose with big thorns but lovely rose hips, full of vitamin C. The perfect shelter for hiding from the unwanted, while feeding the birds. What also happened when the howl came closer many birds took to their wings and many cried alarm. The whole woods was in uproar including me.
The making of land art can me so relaxing and so rewarding and by the time i was looking for more seeds the birds came back, right near me. I was not a part of their fear.
The clay is very natural and will fall apart after some rain and frost can crack it open giving space for the seeds to grow.
It started to rain making the clay lovely and smooth and a special shine came over it like a glaze but too much rain and it would wash the clay away.
The pieces went for shelter under the pick nick table to wait for the rain to pass over.
I went looking for a good spot to create this poem, somewhere in this woodland. Some place where the poem can become a part of the trees.
At the clay pit are many self seeded Ash trees in all sizes it looks like a stick concert. Amongst them stands the white stem of a Birch. You need to look to see but than it is perfect.
I found the spot.
Ashes are easy to twist and turn just like Willow, perfect to make a living sculpture. I made one before in the walled garden with two Ash trees. So i started to make hoops with the branches and cut most of the side branches away. The brambles around the Ashes was weeded away, to give the trees a change to grow next spring and not becoming the climbing frame for the brambles.
To make the bows more visual they will be wrapped in natural spun wool , this will also prevent the little stems to start shooting again in spring and so the bow will keep its shape for longer. In the walled garden i used coloured wool, not so good in the wild it must be subtle so people need to look to see it.
Than it was dark
The next day i came back to finish the work with more wool in my bag and my mobile in my pocket just in case. On my way i saw somebody done some chain sawing at one of the pick nick benches leaving a lovely pile of saw dust.
Some time ago one of the benches was sawed into fire wood but not this time, the bench was just used as saw-bench.
The poem clay was still under the pick nick bench by the clay pit.
The wool is hold in place my some string made from Hemp, in the end it will all disappear down into the ground, feeding the trees.
The final pieces were made for the poem. The question was how to place the poem and the trees together. Sticking them on the branches did not work, the clay was too heavy. A wand of clay was too intrusive. Perhaps a bed of moss just like the fox shelter but not so good to take the moss away and kill it, it is too beautiful for that.
The sawdust could work.
My backpack became bucket and the sawdust became bed.
saw dust bed
The poem altered on the last moment as the shelter became retreat, it sounds better almost rhyme with seeds.
retreat for the
is build from
It is subtle hidden, most people will not see it unless they stand still and look.
The wool mirrored the white stem of the Birch.
So became the scare of a hunt a piece of art.
The other day i went back to see how it was. The clay did as i expected and was falling apart. The rain had washed away most of the poem. The wool looked good specially after some rain, the drops hanging from the wool, look like a magnifying glass.
Art within the art.
The yellow willow ball stands strong and is growing. The clay had all sort of little bits in it and some were little roots which started to grow.
When springs come and the willow starts to grow as well, this piece of art will be something.
In the willow will grow clover and grass, only time can tell, how the art will grow.