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Hoverflies and chasing the setting sun

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Chase the Setting Sun Wheel
For those short on time (or attention spans!) here's the short version. I chased the sun for two days to get this. I hope it was worth it! The hover fly landed on each circle enticed by the colours. I thought that was pretty cool.

For those with too much time on their hands here's the "director's cut":-

This sculpture has brought a more - close-up - detailed examination of patterns of the weather than I really would have liked. I love to learn things about nature when I make something - that really is quite a lot of the point - but I do have to fit my life around these lessons so there has to be a limit!

I had a couple of days off this week. The first day I did the penultimate work to my commissioned sculpture ready for its completion and yesterday we had an extended mooch and then made this in the afternoon.

The day started fair and leaves and light felt enticing but by lunchtime the ever-present cloud was back. Ho-hum.

A few momentary gaps appeared allowing the sun to pierce through later in the afternoon and so I thought I might manage a picture or too.

I guess I started to feel like a leaf myself or perhaps a lizard or a snake. Perched on the earth my upper surfaces craving for the sunlight to strike me and fill me with its delicious warmth, bringing life and energy where there was none. Waiting desperately for the sun to find my square inch of the world.

Watching the clouds scud without expectation can be relaxing, meditative and induce a dreamlike state. But when you are waiting time slows to a stop and their movement seems incredibly ponderous. You really start to feel the time in between the ticks of the clock, tick and tock, moving ever forward.

On the local news the other night they said there was a chance that the Aurora Borealis could be seen in Northern England. So after dusk we went to sit up in the hills and we watched yet more cloud drift and the odd twinkling star appear in a rip in the patchwork but alas no northern lights. Yet more silent witnessing of the passage of our atmosphere.

The sun was still shining as I headed off to an interesting spot to capture the leaf circles in the sun but as I set it up I had time for a couple of shots before it was shrouded again. By the time it revealed itself again it had moved and I had to re-set up the shot as I wasn't happy with the fine sculptural details, the shape of the stalk holding up the frame, the postion of the circles and the background frame were just not right.

I expect some people may think I have the patience of a saint but that isn't the case at all. It's more that the little details annoy me and I have to perservere until they are right or I just can't rest. My eyes are drawn to the mistakes or anything that is uneven and so is everyone elses if I point them out to them. It just has to be right to my eye or I feel I have failed and it bugs me.

So I repositioned it and this next spot was even better. I just needed the sun that was revealing the colours as I was setting up to remain long enough for me to get back to my camera. Alas she was gone within seconds.

And so the long wait began.

I paced and paced and studied the sky. The patches of blue went nowhere near the sun and I became more impatient. A raptor squealed continuously in the tree canopy and passers by gawped at me until I stared back and they pretended they were pointing at something and not at all interested in the bloke hiding in the bush looking for the sun. I waited two hours and there was no sign and I had to be home for dinner. So I gave up. That has only happened a couple of times before.

The pictures came out okay and some of you had a sneak preview when I loaded them up last night and forgot to make the private (thanks for the comments ketztx4me and grand duchess) but I wasn't happy. Without the sunlight I craved they weren't right and I was going to have to try again.

But despite these frustrations this is what land art is all about. I have no desire to control nature or make her bend to my will (although if you could that would be pretty cool! But would result in your own destruction in a dark sorceror stylee pretty soon!). You get what you get. The materials that you find, the elements, the different seasons. This is what is so enticing.

So I kept the sculpture overnight. Made it wet to try and keep it from shrivelling, drying out and shedding all its thorns and went to bed praying for sunshine. But it wasn't over yet by a long shot.

This morning the sun shone and the sky was blue and I was much more hopeful. I thought my normal good luck had returned and I would soon have it in the bag.

I went back to the same spot of yesterday, before breakfast, but of course the sun would be at a different angle. I knew it would be but as the sun hadn't shone all day for ages I tried anyway. But of course I could not position the sun where I wanted. So I took some more pictures and they were nice too but they were not what I wanted.

I went back for breakfast and started work and sat looking out the window as the sun shone and shone and the intermittent clouds did not diminish her warmth.

I tried again at lunchtime but now the sun was too high. But I knew this and tried anyway but the lessons were having a hard time sinking in.

Finally the end of the working day was approaching and my excitement and trepidation grew. The sky was still blue and the sun still shining and I knew I would finally finish. I'd rebuilt the sculpture a couple times and replaced a wilted leaf or two and removed and reapplied some snapped brittle thorns. Surely now I could put this to bed.

As I stepped out the front door a huge black cloud hung ominuosly over the city to my right. Heavy with rain and towering miles up my heart sank as the blackness stretched from horizon to horizon.

Now I don't want to control nature as I said but this was really taking the pee! Did I need more lessons in clouds and atmospheric conditions? Perhaps I did.

I set off anyway and parked myself up in the hills overlooking the city as the lightning struck the ground, the ground rumbled with thunder and the blackness streaked to the ground in sheets of rain.

As it passed slowly southwards I could start to see the sun hitting the mountains across into Cumbria and the line of sunshine heading towards the county border crept slowly closer.

Each time the second hand clicked another fraction towards a new minute, time stopped as I willed the storm to pass. The more I tried the more slowly time passed but I could not distract myself from its painful passing.

After another couple of hours a shaft of light cut through the cloud and it was on and I dashed back to that spot once again.

As I approached I found a film crew filming a costume drama right next to where I wanted to be but too much waiting had instilled in me 100% determination. The place was right and the light was right and I was done.

I am reminded of the phrase 'be careful what you wish for' as I tried to instill some meaning into this sculpture. Following on from the sun sculpture I made at the weeked I wanted to expand the idea and show more phases of the sun's passage.

In my efforts to depict the sun and incorporate its light into my sculpture I had chased it for two days. And above all it left me with a strong sense of insignificance in the face of the universe. My place within it is just like anyone elses: fleeting and a single cog amongst and infinity of others joined and turning together in a constant ever changing interconnected whole.