Stories

Don't slice off the end of your finger

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Oak Leaf Colour Square
So what lessons did I learn today?

1) Put sun block on before you start digging up thick black earth with your hands, especially if you have no way to wash them or else you are going to smear it all over yourself and will look like some Rambo wannabe who lives in a cave and eats rabbits and berries.

2) Don't slice off the end of your finger (or someone elses) when you are preparing thorns. First of all it really hurts. Secondly it will bleed a lot. Thirdly you will get blood on the sculpture you are making, it may be natural but it might spoil the affect you are trying to achieve. And fourthly, don't do it after you have just been digging up black earth and you can't wash you hands and you don't have a first aid kit.

3) Don't drink too much wine the previous night and fall asleep on the sofa. This is especially important to remember when your girlfriend comes home from an evening shift, you have left the door locked with your keys in the lock, she cannot wake you and has to climb in through a window. Please believe me, you won't be popular if you do this! ;-) (Note to self: you will be particularly unpopular if you do this more than once).

Perhaps less important but more interesting:-

1) Wasps feed or forage on oak trees. While I was collecting leaves I noticed a large number of wasps and I have not seen them at all before at that place. Are they collecting material to pulp into paper to make their nests?

2) The colours of developing oak leaves are very varied. I was surprised to find the amount of colours I did and there were more than I have displayed here. Through making this sculpture I learnt just how many there were and I want to do another one where I can display all the colours. They ranged from deep burgundy, through red, yellow and orange to green with every hue in between. They are very beautiful.

I went out today with the intention of making more rock sculptures. Yet when I got onto the fell the bright yellow colour of some dying bracken fronds drew me into thinking about making something else. Regardless of whether I intend to make one thing I have to go where inspiration takes me. It would be too contrived to have too much of a plan, I just see what ideas appear and often I don't know what something will look like until the end. I might be overdoing sculptures with leaves at the moment but I just have to make what comes to me and inspires me. And I do not know what that will be until I am there making it. I think it is important to be true to yourself and to do what comes from inside, whether or not I think that people are jaded with seeing endless leaf sculptures.

I started to gather some bracken and then noticed a nice upturned slab of rock. The idea of making a mud canvas came to me and then I could display the bright yellow colour contrasted against the dark earth. But it was dry where I found the slab so finding wet earth would be difficult.

I carried on walking and found an ideal location, boggy nearby and a slab that was nice and symmetrical. I created the square and then tried to arrange the fronds in a pleasing way. It just wasn't working. None of the arrangements looked right so disappointedly I gave up and changed tack. The image in my head was striking I just couldn't conceive how to get it out of there and into something tangible.

Then I noticed the stunted oaks around where I was and saw new red leaves amongst the green. I collected some and began to make the square and as I collected more and more I noticed there were even more colours than I had first seen so I dismantled what I had already made several times to incorporate the new colours into what I was making.

Yet again this is the essence of land art for me. As I looked at the leaves and gathered them I became more aware of how many colours there are, how they were subtly different on different trees and how all the colours of autumn seem to be ever present in the growing season.

I came away knowing a little bit more about oak trees than I did before. As long as I learn something I am happy even if the sculpture is not a good one. It is these discoveries that spur me on and there are an infinite number of them to be searched for and found. It feeds the soul and draws one closer to nature each time that I try.