I am proud to say we have poured our hearts into this marvellous project. The amazing pupils, their awesome teacher Miss Bygate, the extraordinary Head Ms Hanson and all the dedicated, kind, thoughtful and very patient support staff were willing to really go for it and gave us all the encouragement and back-up we could possibly need.
The upper part of Pennard Primary School’s sculpture is complete, cut into sections and drying. It has been a joy to build. The pupils panels and tiles for the lower half are drying beautifully. I’m putting together the Book now and it’s lovely to review the wonderful time we had with this fabulous group.
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.
The Marking time sculpture is built and cut into sections. Each part will be prepared for a long managed drying and a very slow firing.
It has been wonderful work. Very challenging and engrossing. The scale is great: I spent a lot of time working with-in the embrace. The supports worked really well, didn’t get in the way and there has been no cracking at all. Scarva ES 50 Crank is an outstanding clay.
The edges are sharp and there is good variety and rhythm in the texture. The sculpture changes as you walk around it, with that rhythm creating unity and a flow that draws you in.
Once it is installed I will use the earth pigments that have become a really valuable material in my work recently, to add a thin white wash over the whole piece. The soft yellow of the clay will glow through the white and in the dappled shade of the woodland we will get a dream-like radiance. Over time the moss will add the finishing touch, making the form part of the place.
The Red Kite, which represents the community supporting military from all angles with love, strength and unity, is very overt. During the consultation people spoke about a dragon in the mist, etherial, a force of nature. The dragon is there in the form making the embrace that shelters, guards and protects the vivid, swirling blue mosaic which is life. The dragon’s face shifts, the eye changing with the light.
Things are progressing really well. The intense texture, which will look great in the woodland light, is developing strong patterns and as the curves get tightened up there is lots of flowing movement.
The birds head is done and the dragon’s is getting there. The main thing, a powerful embrace, is there and when the blue mosaic is in place in the centre it will look enchanting.
Our foster-kittens are being very helpful with lots of feed-back. It will soon be time to cut the sections and begin the long slow dry.
These fabulous images are from the wonderful Black Eagle Project.
The full structure is built and the 1st layer of the textured surface is on. It has been every bit as challenging as I hoped!
The next stage is developing the surface to enhance the flow of the curves. The clay with extra grog added will go on in layers using ever-smaller tools. It takes a great deal of time but it will leave fascinating, subtle surfaces and edges that are also very strong.
In these early stages it can look distractingly chaotic. Any part that just doesn’t work well can be removed and redone.
It was lovely to have Mick and Janet call in to give me their objective feed-back. And some gorgeous flowers for my birthday! I will get in as many people as I can to double-check how the piece is being read. The Red Kite is becoming very clear. Bringing together the Dragon will be the trickiest bit.