Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Germ of an Idea

Fairfield Orchard is a public space developed at the turn of the Millennium. Some waste ground near the Fairfield private estate in one of the more salubrious parts of Lancaster was converted into a public park and orchard. It has developed well and the wonder of it is just how little vandalism has been inflicted on it. The people of this part of Lancaster are a pretty public spirited bunch and have made sure vandalism is swiftly dealt with. It is well policed.
I sometimes take a detour through this orchard on my daily walk to the studio. It is a bit of a long way round but it makes for a pleasant stroll along the Lancaster Canal then through fields and finally here before re-entering the built-up area.
In the middle of the orchard there is a quiet picnic area.

In the picnic area there is this semi-circular arrangement of tree stumps. I'm not sure if they are an installation or a novel form of picnic seating. A couple of days ago I sat on the centre stump. It struck me how the formation reminded me of either a set of seats for some imaginary guardians of the place or the setting for a gathering in the style of a crow court.

I have seen crow courts when I lived in the countryside back in Northumberland. The crows/rooks stand in a circle on the ground and one crow stands in the centre. Sometimes the central bird is quite clearly the flock leader and seems to be making some deliberations. At other times the central bird is one who has failed the flock in some way. On these occasions avian justice can be swift and final.

A germ of an idea formed.
Why not make a collection of sculptures to form two semi-circles, one to show a condemnation and the other to portray leadership?

When I got back to the studio I put a large sheet of paper on my main drawing board and made a series of drawings exploring the idea.

This is a layout of designs for the characters. The top row I have called "Supplicant." The central kneeling figure in grey is the supplicant being judged by her peers.

The bottom row I have called "Goddess". The standing central figure is the deity standing amidst her acolytes. The figures are coloured according to their roles. I'll explain in more detail in subsequent postings when I shall show some individual images.
It's becoming an interesting project. What started out as an idea for a woodland installation is becoming an exploration of the human condition, - social roles we all adopt at different stages of our lives.

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