A few months ago I built two watchtowers. They were built to show my interpretation on the current culture that has been adopted in England. This of course is the Big Brother effect our country has over its people. I felt the symbol of the watchtower was quite fitting and the images worked well.
I wanted to see how the public reacted to my work. These odd authoritative figures appearing in the country side would surely create a reaction? I was very focused on the actions I was doing as a Land Artist at this point and very interested in the reactions too. I was focused on seeing whether or not people would walk on by the looming authoratitve structures, adopting the Big Brother 'keep on walking' and leave well alone approach. Or would the public interact with my pieces, perhaps be quite destructive?
In fact both were the case. The 'Hagwood Watchtower' was left alone, where as the 'Hurstwood Watchtower' had been pushed over. So i did indeed get some results, but what did it prove? The destroyed watchtower could have been knocked over by an aggrivated farmer. What does it mean that the other was left alone? I became confused by my own study. At this point I left the watchtowers to be rediscovered by myself for future development.
After approximately half a year I came back to discover the states of both watchtowers. 'Hurstwood Watchtower' was still in rubbles where as the watchtower in Hagwood had been blown over and badly weathered. Time had taken an interesting toll on this watchtower and I enjoyed the resulting product. The grass had grown over the structure and had become embedded in the ground. After retrieving the fallen tower from Hagwoods boggy grounds, up came the earth, the plants and the creatures that now inhabited it. My own theories and studies no longer mattered as I had new ideas and plans to work with for this watchtower.
Riots And Ruins
I initially built a watchtower to represent the Big Brother mentality of the nation we live in. Time took its toll and the watchtower became ruins. A Big Brother symbol in ruins (Just like the city of London) reminded me of the current situation. To replicate the fight of the common man to protect and save our Big Brother capital I salvaged the ruins and attached rope to steady and keep the structure up. I felt this addition symbolised these factors well.
The evidence of revival is still evident on the watchtower. The earth and grass that came up from ground remains, along with the creatures which made it their home. In London, after the riots the 'creatures' of that city remain too, amongst the rubble and damage, supporting their fallen Big Brother city.
Above is a video of the piece, so that you can get a feel of viewing the piece yourself. The piece is filmed to resemble the deserted aftermath in which the riots took place.
As part of my research towards exploring the Landscape and how I could influence/change it, I decided to explore an unknown region to me to see how such an experiment could influence myself and my art. Around two years ago now I had my dad drop me off in moorland of which I'm unfamiliar with. He did this around 7.30-8 AM. It was around winter time, possibly January-February. The temperature was unbearably freezing and the fog was so thick it was difficult to see further than a few feet.
I was dropped off at the top of the moorland and had to make my way back using a map. The further I travelled the moor the wind dropped and the air warmed up.
After a while I felt the map wasn't helping as the fog was too thick. The way the land had formed and with the fog thick on each side of me I was forced to choose one route down. Being forced in one direction with the eeriness of the fog and lack of wind made the whole process feel almost dreamlike. I feel like the 'dreamlike' feeling I had was satisfyingly captured in the photographs which taken.
After around an hour of walking the fog lifted. There was a few signs directing me in the right direction, however they were still hard to follow. I eventually came across the cairns you see above. After following these cairns which sprawled across the landscape I eventually did find my way to more familiar land. To find these markers on the land was a pleasant surprise and further pushed the notion that this peculiar experiment I had taken was incredibly dream orientated.
I had initially intended this walk to change this land as I passed through for my own artistic gain. Once thrown into this scenario I couldn't help but just take in the amazing walk I was part of. Discovering this moorland and being part of this experience ended up being more important than what I had initially intended to achieve.
For me 'Hagwood Installation' is a piece of work about another piece of work I had made. Originally I had created the item above influenced by the artist Chris Drury. The piece consists of two found sheep bones bolted together to resemble pliers. After they had served their purpose it was left redundant and of no use, which I felt was a misuse of a creatures former bones. Using another creatures bones never sat well with me and to just discard them after their use felt wrong too. I therefore decided to re-use the bones one last time, with the idea in mind that I could return them to their original resting place from which I found them.
I began to reuse the original bones by casting them in clay and pouring plaster in to the left over moulds. The process had a very archaeological feel to it, with the way that every time I removed the clay, I began to unveil what felt like undiscovered and odd bones. This was a factor I'd hope to capture in the end product. After a while of casting these new 'bones', I began to piece them together and what formed seemed to be a cross between sheep and human bones. I felt that through the sheep bones I had used and the influence from myself, I had formed an almost hybrid of the two species. This new 'Hybrid' was a successful representation of the journey the original bones and I undertaken.
As I stated previously, I wanted to bring the original bones back to the location I found them, to put them to rest. As well as placing the original bones back from where they came, I wanted to place the new hybrid there to, as a way of signifying the journey they had been on. The bones were embedded into the clay beneath were I placed the plaster bones. I had the idea to take this sculpture to where I had originally found the bones.
The sculpture was far to big however and could not be taken to where I intended it to be. Placing the bones in clay was unnessacary for the idea I had and would of worked better leaving it as it was. I had to find a new location which could work well and still be relevent to the piece, I chose a rumoured burial site close to where I live. The piece didn't work well in this location, it didn't have the 'archaeological dig' I had hoped for, but more of a grave. I left the bones there for a week. When I returned they had been smashed. I salvaged what I could from the 'Hybrids' bones and took the original bones too.
This mishap was what ended up making the piece successful. Although a lot of the 'hybrid' bones had been smashed, the salvaged bones were adequate enough to form the 'Hybrid' again. I took the remaining and original bones to where I had first found them and where I first intended them to be placed. To capture the archaeological element I wanted, I dug a foot down into the earth. I placed the sculpture in the position that fit best then placed the original bones next to it. This also worked better as the passing viewer/traveller should get a better idea of what it is they are seeing, or at least it should raise more questions and thoughts than where it was placed before.
I wanted ensure the viewer doesn't mistake the 'Hybrid' bones for anything other than the plaster sculpture it is. Over the top I placed a plastic pane and covered the outskirts of the piece with surrounding soil. The camera captures more reflection then there really is. With the added plastic it feels like the wood has become a museum for these bones for passing walkers to investigate.