I was really lucky to be working with the wonderful, resourceful, ingenious Gareth Ellis from Green Valleys. He has the patients of a saint. The writer Mark Christmas gave a huge amount of time and hard labour in addition to his years-long dedication to this project and this poem which will be set at the entrance to the woodland walk:
Catching a Moment
Within these woods
there is a breath to be found
to ease new life into sight and sound
transforming our world and how we see
each branch, each twig, each living tree
so when the hurt inside we feel
creates distraction with no appeal
take a walk on this path to find this rhyme
you will no longer be ‘Marking Time.’
Mark Christmas, 2015.
Dedicated to those who understand.
Because vehicles could not pull up to the site, the budget was tight (having been well squeezed by this point as is my habit!) and we couldn’t be too sure who would be able to join us we used a slightly different installation method than in previous sculptures.
We fixed the triangle of heavy railway sleepers securely, dug down 20 cms and then packed in hollow breeze blocks.
The first sections were put in place using the paper template of the mosaic and corner tiles, steel rebars hammered down through the sections and well into the ground and then post-crete was poured into all available gaps and half way up inside the first 3 sculpture sections.
The second sections were braced in place using blocks/ wood/ prayers, rebars set, post-crete poured.
The mosaic was built in the studio in 3 sections to aid handling and set securely in place with concrete going right down into the breeze block hollows. The mosaic tiles and the triangle corner-tiles were beautifully made by pupils in Ross Bennett’s Art Department at Llandrindod High School.
Mark Christmas brought in poet Emma nan Woerkom to take some lovely photos and create this beautiful poem that has been cut in brass for the site.
All the visible cement (pointing etc) was done with a white cement/gold sand mix that matches the fired colour of the Scarva ES50 clay perfectly. On the floor we topped it with light brown flint chippings and extra, handmade blue mosaic tiles and glass to soften the edge of the mosaic.
Finishing touches on the sculpture were done with Milliput and the golden cement.
Mick Farell has been a key part of this project and he was wonderfully supportive during the installation. His enchanting poem, written especially for the sculpture completes the triangle.
We are the child of nevermind
Who, finding dreams lost, unfind
Who, wandering, walking paths unknown
to find a woodland overgrown
And seeing in that woodland Glen
The happy minds of nevermen
Who elfin laughter laughly speak
Of how we humans keenly seek
Some new haven overhewn
And child stars of the moon
The poem tiles were made by the same fabulous pupils at Mount Street Junior School that developed the theme with me last year ( see Part 1)They are fixed to the sleepers with tile adhesive and screws.
We have spent a great deal of time on this one and it has been worth it. The Team have been a joy to work with and the whole woodland site looks really beautiful. Gareth Ellis and Mick Farrell will put in the benches and place and secure some tree-trunk logs. This is going to be such a calming, peaceful place for people involved with the Hospital to rest and revive.
It has been a really good Consultation period. Everyone has been very open and generous with their time and thoughts, even when it was very difficult for them to do so.
The models, figures, benches and bases shown are all to scale. The full sized versions would have more texture/detail and the benches would be a metre further away.
We identified our primary audience as the people using, visiting or working at Bronllys Hospital. The overall impression/feel of the sculpture should be up-lifting and hopeful to support those who are ‘marking time’ in stressful circumstances.
“The sculpture should have an aura of peace that will not interfere with the person’s unique moment”
“…so people can sit down and stay calm and feel safe.”
” In the discipline of Marking Time and manoeuvres like that, vulnerable people can find structure for their chaotic lives.”
” Marking Time is marching on the spot, keeping the beat, keeping in step with the group, in readiness to move onto the next task.”
The children at Mount Street Junior School felt it was important to help the Servicemen and women to forget and to ease them back into civilian life with games, walks, sports and domestic routines. The Ex- Servicemen and women agreed that humour and a sense of playfulness were key in allowing them not to forget but to learn to feel again. Military training is, by necessity, dehumanising:
“Dehumanised Soldiers find it hard to play nicely…”
“Snowball fighting can be more fun than real fighting because nobody gets hurt.”
The children agreed that ” The Soldiers need a bridge for when they come back to their families from the War.”
Many Servicemen are adolescents when they join-up and their training replaces the natural pace of growing up. They cannot contextualise the shocks they are exposed to.
So: a sculpture with a narrative that releases the imagination, shows protectiveness and how the burden of being fierce and brave is shared and eased by those, of all sizes, being protected.
“A flowing circle, the movement of life, love, hope and promise will draw you in and guide you to change.”
“Regrets, we all have them. You need Hope to manage them.”
“Ephemeral, shadow-like.” ” A dragon in the mist.” “Inter-weaving the real and the etherial, making them equal.” ” Dragon of protection, Bird of hope.” “Intertwined spirals” “Water represents calm and peace. Flowers represent beauty. Dragon represents protection.” “…and a mystical Dragon and a moat with 3 piranhas.”
“The Bronllys Dragon by Ben,aged 8.
Once upon a time there was a Dragon called Yddraig Goch. He would guard the Castle day to night until one day the Gorgan Maduser came. She looked the dragon in his eye but Yddraig Goch was quick as lightening to fly away. Yddraig Goch flew to the Military and perched on the roof. The army heard a thump on the roof and found Yddraig Goch, the Welsh Dragon.
“Shoot him” said Ian. “I am ready, Sir”
“Wait!”said the Captain.
“What?!” said the army.
“It’s Yddraig Goch, Lets make friends.”
“What, with a Dragon?” “Yes! Maybe he can help us against the other armies.”
The triangle base and the use of 3s has multiple significances in the Military, where groups are divided into 3 parts throughout it’s structure starting with Army/Airforce/Navy. Celtic and Christian symbolism is over-flowing with 3s.
Linked to the triangle is the heart shape, despite its over-use, still a “powerful symbol of the strongest emotion, the one that triumphs over all others.”
In Wales the Dragon is an especially potent icon representing the Land and bravery. The Red Kite is the Welsh National Bird and the symbol of Powys. Red Kites live separately but hunt and feed collectively when ever they can. They have an ordered community and share food and protect each other. After nearly going extinct in the UK due to cruelty and stupidity, their recovery has been brought about by the protection from a better society. Breeding from the surviving Welsh Kites, their numbers are growing: like the phoenix rising from the ashes.
For each version of the Sculpture: The Mosaic Base.
The base of the sculpture will raise slightly in the centre of the triangle. A mosaic of good sized tiles of many shapes, with images and words about what makes up a strong Community, made with Mount Street Juniors and the A-Level students in Llandrindod Wells and beautiful, and vivid glass pebbles will be set in swirling lines with the most colour in the centre representing souls, ideals, that which is vulnerable and precious.
The colours are blues/greens/yellows.
In the corners of the triangle will be set large tiles with ‘Accept the Past’, ‘Trust the Present’ and Faith in the Future’ and celtic knot-work carved on them.
I don’t recommend Models 1-3. They are lovely in themselves but don’t quite hit the mark. They have been useful transitionary pieces.
The dragon’s expression will be extremely gentle and caring. The birds, of all sizes and types but mostly red kites will soar out from the centre. They will have a softness to their lines. They will support, encourage and assist the benevolent dragon, their wings working with his.
The max height (including base) is 180cm. Width: 150cm. Depth: 180cm.
The form has lightness and movement but is actually very strong and safe in all the ways discussed.
There will be many view-points of the mosaic.
The full sized version will have expressive textures and many more birds than could be put on a small model. It will be a very complex build and I am happy to add voluntary hours to the budget and time-line in order to complete this challenging piece because I believe it will be very beautiful.
Model 4 uses the consultation resources and our intended outcomes to the best effect. I feel everyone who contributed will be very pleased and will be able to see that their work is included.
Model 5: This is a condensed version of Model 4. It has the best of Model 4 and it adds the iconic local sky-line of Pen y fan mountain in the near-by Brecon Beacons. The Kite is now powerful enough to bring a sense of guardian angel to the mix. The Dragon and the Kite interact to create an embrace around the centre of a richly coloured mosaic of glass pebbles and hand-made and decorated tiles in shades of blue and green that swirl outwards from the centre. It has 3 points connecting it to the ground. There are 2 holes through the form.
The max height (including base) is 180cm. Width: 150cm. Depth: 180cm.
The form will not get cluttered with leaves in the way that Model 4 will in this woodland site. Model 5 will age gracefully with out looking neglected. It is sturdy and safe while retaining the flowing movement.
To keep within the Budget we need to reduce the size of the foundation.
Model 6 is based very much on Model 5 but it is divided into 3 sections which has lead to some interesting and lovely developments in the forms. The sense of the protective, sheltering embrace is still clear but there is more movement and echoes of bird-forms. The dragon’s head is moved into the centre adding to the protective feel and this enhances the over-all silhouette.
The dimensions are the same. I have added to the base-line so that the 3 forms are self-supporting to ease strain on the small foundations. When the sculpture was a single form it supported itself from tipping over. But the weight was all standing on 3 small points that would have put a lot of strain on a small foundation. The 3 sections allow some ‘give’ as the sculpture settles on the site.
This model is not as neatly finished as Model 5: don’t let that distract you. I will use both models during the build.
The foundation will have 3 parts linked by a reinforcement-bar grid. Hard-core will form a small rise towards the centre. The mosaic will be set into hand-made cement paving slabs made at Osprey Studios. This will give more time to the layout of the mosaic and the results will be better than setting them onsite. It will save the surprisingly large cost of Out-door Tile Adhesive.
This is a good set of solutions with a lot gained and nothing lost except the costs of a large, poured foundation. It does create a lot more work for the sculpture-build but I am willing to take that on: it will be satisfyingly challenging.
I spend as much time gazing into the garden in winter as I do in summer. I have a lot of bird feeders and I never tire of watching the birds. The Sculptures give the garden structure and a bit of drama, especially in winter.
I test pieces out to see how they look in the different light of the changing seasons. I know they are all completely weather-proof but it is reassuring to put them up against the harsh Brecon Beacons winter.
This slightly crazy looking Harbinger was a technical test piece that got exploded into smithereens subsequently giving me the opportunity to test some fixing-materials. Like all the sculptures it is hollow and I hope Bees might take it over. It is 130 cm high and stands straight on the earth. If a piece needs raising up I try and make the plinths double up as toad or hedgehog homes. It’s working because I have both living here and almost no problems with slugs at all! These days I add holes and spaces in all my sculptures for insects to rest in and my garden is always full of bees , especially Bumble Bees.
A perfect , clear blue day for the un-veiling of the Sculpture and a celebration of the whole Project and all the lovely, dedicated people who were involved from Arts Care Gofal Celf, Gwalia, the Primary schools in the area and the extraordinary Staff and Residents at Gwalia Mynydd Mawr.
The video here describes the whole project:
A Sculpture will transform any Garden, huge or pocket-sized, elaborate or austere. It will need to be made of beautiful, quality materials that have a radiance complimentary to your gorgeous plants. A piece needs to be frost-proof and easily cleaned. No material is as durable or as low maintenance as high-fired Clay.
I make simple , movable plinths with old bricks and attractive stone paving tiles. Dig a hole and put in some bricks to make a foundation if the Sculpture is tall or very heavy, then build a hollow plinth with a small doorway that can double as a safe, cosy home for wild-life. If security is an issue or the piece is tall and vulnerable to high winds sink a stake into the ground, build the plinth around this and have the stake go into the Sculpture- many of my Sculptures are hollow and you can set them securely with cement if needs be.My garden is 8 years old and is now really coming into it’s own.
In the winter sculptures give the garden focal points and structure while the plants rest.
Sculptures will define each area of your garden. This patio at the end of the garden is a calm, reflective place with dappled shade in the summer and warm sun in spring and autumn. In the winter the sculpture stands out and is eye catching from the house.