A new woodland stroll is coming together beautifully at Bronllys Hospital, near Brecon. This fantastic oak tree is opposite the walk’s starting point.
The winding path is laid with beautiful curves, reminiscent of celtic-knot-work.
And this triangle is the spot where the Marking Time Sculpture will go. There will be comfortable benches set in place so visitors, patients and staff have a tranquil place to sit and get a break from the often over-whelming activity in the Hospital.
A really good Site Meeting covered all the restrictions and health and safety issues. These matters begin the process of defining the boundaries of a new sculpture.
There is a really good-hearted group of people involved in this. They have spent a lot of time planning this Project with care and thoughtfulness. It is lovely to join such a strong Team.
The Theme is how the military and the community support each other. There are various Military Bases in this area including the world famous Gurkhas in Brecon. Many local families have military connections.
This is a subtle Theme and there is no obvious answer to it. We need to create a sculpture that will have genuine value for the people who will see it. A piece that will draw the viewers in and give them some peace and hope. We need to pin-point what communities and the military have in common that is relevant to the hospital site.
Kids can be brilliant at putting their finger on the mark. Mount Street Junior School in Brecon has a lot of Military kids. I spent a wonderful day on a huge join-in sculpture with 70 year 3 and 4 Pupils and the lovely, guiding staff.
Mount Street Junior School, Years 3 and 4 making a model of a town that cares for and supports it’s Military members.
In the morning we made a town like Brecon and spread it over a network of tables across the double classroom.
I went around helping, talking through ideas and taking notes. These children were very forth-coming, imaginative and empathetic. They expressed their ideas clearly and thoughtfully. It was a joy to work with them and they were very helpful in clarifying the theme for the sculpture.
There was a Military Base on the edge of town:
A Military Base with tanks, helicopters and personnel.
Just down the road from there was a caravan park where Service men could relax with their families in a calm natural beauty-spot.
The Caravan Park. There are cabins, caravans, a duck pond, a fountain and lots of other fun and relaxing things to do.
Beautiful old trees are always calming and this is a perfect spot for reading and day-dreaming.
The Caravan Park and the road leading to the Military Base.
All along the town’s streets were homes with busy family life going on. The children felt that it was the small moments that gave the greatest comfort to servicemen on leave from the war: meals together, watching telly together, chatting and playing video games.
The support and care for the military people came from people in the community of all sizes and ages. The Military protect our way of life and our land and we keep our society in good shape in return. A circle of care and protection.
Having dinner together
Talking through how best to tell the story of these homes.
On the other side of town ran the river. The bridge crosses it. ‘The bridge leads the soldiers back into the community’. A fisherman floats by in his boat. There is a water-park in town too.
A solider enjoys an afternoon fishing on the river.
He’s caught a huge fish.
The natural world came up many times. The children said it brings happiness into our lives and keeps us balanced. ‘Learning to forget’ was mentioned many times. Letting go of the past. The community helped the soldiers to forget past ordeals. These children are 8-9 years old. Wonderful.
In the afternoon we talked about how to show the idea of protecting and keeping everyone safe.
A tree house is a safe place to live protected by the forest. And a dragon!
A dragon and a whale guard the town and the military can harness their power.
Natural forms expressing tranquility.
The natural world gives us shelter, calm and peacefulness. It is soothing and balancing.
The children also did drawings with captions of their ideas.
Marking Time’ is a military term for the marching on the spot done between parade manoeuvres. It is a perfect phrase to express those difficult periods in life when you can’t go forward or back but have wait in a state of readiness, especially when you are caught up in a Hospital situation. You can feel very powerless.
It can be very difficult for many military personnel to relax their guard during the gaps between deployments, when they can spend precious time with their families. Particularly if they have had a harrowing experience. The Pupils at Mount Street Junior School clarified the idea that this is one of the points where community and military intersect and share support, empathy and strength.
I will spend some more time with the photos and drawings. Circles, spirals and forms in a variety of sizes raising up or giving shelter are the first images to come together. I will add this to my other consultation material and start preliminary scale models. Then I will take all this to an A-S Level and some year 9 pupils in Llandrindod Wells, Powys, for a Scale Model Making Workshop to share some skills in exchange for the pupils feed-back.
Mount Street Junior School pupils sharing ideas and inspiration.