Thursday, October 27, 2011

Griffefields Sunflower Theatre

I've got some catching up to do on this dusty old blog, so its out with the besom to clear away them cobwebs...
I've had a brilliant summer! And before the children packed away their satchels for the school holidays , we started a new build at a school in derby at Griffefield primary.
The brief was to create an outdoor performance area, a theater of sorts for the children to bring out their inner thespian.
The design is based on a sunflower, the petals forming a boundary and giving a feel of enclosure. We installed hard-wearing oak benches throughout to seat a couple of classes.
A gateway of honey bees and foliage invites the children, performers and audience into the space.
The whole school (400+!) helped to weave the petals, each class created a 3D sunflower seed on a stick and a seed hat!
The children will keep them in their classrooms and carry the seeds to and from the space as its used, like a permanent cycle of seed dispersal, which I'm all for.

Thank you to Emma Smith of Griffefield for support/Tea and cakes, also Frazer Johnston, Andy Cowling and Pete Z.

All These cards are hand drawn Thank-yous. Beautiful illustrations and messages from some of the children that took part, attached to a willow Ball!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Victoria Special School, Birmingham.

Victoria Special School in Birmingham won the peoples millions and developed an outdoor space for their students to interact with each other.
It is a very well considered and finely polished design with a seamless network of wheelchair friendly pathways winding through their raise-bed area and solar-dome, which will become an outdoor/indoor learning space where the students can just get messy and plant and play in all weathers and feel some direct connection with the weather and seasonal changes... I love it! and could instantly see its effect on the children and staff alike.

My part in this was to create some seed form sculpture around the garden - namely poppy heads and physalis - and to create height and structure, the next phase of the project will see a living willow dome planted in the new year.

ITV came to the opening and filmed performances and the carnival atmosphere.

City Waterside bulrushes.

City Waterside was the location for the third installation for British Waterways, this time in Stoke-on-Trent and this time a series of woven bulrush appeared from the paved canal bank, in the shadows of a stunning bottle kiln.
The day the images were shot we had a celebration of the project and then the mayor arrived on a restored working boat! It was a lovely day even dressed in my jacket a just had to grab the line and moor the beast.

Etruria locks Dragonfly

One of the four commissions for the British Waterways was at Etruria where the bone and flint mill sits on the junction of the Caldon Canal, the Trent and Mersey, it's also home to Stoke-on-Trent's industrial museum!
I created the dragonfly here, 4.5 meters high, to give some drama above the roof tops of the lower sheds, dragonflies are a great indicator of good water quality and as the industry calms down and we reflect on it's history everything gets a chance to breathe.
The sculpture is overlooked by some sheltered housing... I hope they like it, either that or they are having nightmares about giant insects!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ryton Gardens.

After meeting with head gardener Andy Strachan at Chelsea 2010 and sampling some kohl rabi on the build up of the show straight out of Garden Organics feature - sliced raw and dipped in salsa, mmm! - it was only a matter of time before we hooked up to to install some sculpture in this incredible garden near Coventry.

I've visited a few times over the years and it just so happened to be pumpkin season one time, we indulged in some exquisite soup and pie, grown and hand crafted on site.
The staff at the garden are second to none with 100% commitment to their natural uncomplicated art of growing and inspiring real stuff!

I took my dad on this installation, while we were their we took a quick look over their new allotment garden which is just beautiful and I found myself dribbling over the fence at all the veg and salad crops, don't worry, I didn't touch it, well, I didn't eat it..
Here we are below installing the exhibition piece .
You've just got to get down see for yourselves....

Friday, August 5, 2011

A heron for British Waterways.

Since February I have been working in Stoke-on Trent on a commission for British Waterways, a series of four installations spread over the city all with a direct link to the canal and communities that use them.
The Heron below is at Westport Lake the largest body of water in the city, well known for its waterbirds, it's a great spot for a walk and has an environmental centre cantilevered over it, its pretty smart!
My heron stands about 4 meters up on its pole and is very much a willow sketch against the skyline.
Whilst there I ran a workshop onsite and created bits and bats with the visitors to discuss the ideas and engage folk in the process.
Incidentally my friend has a sculpture on this site too, a series of huge stainless steel feathers designed by Martin Heron (appropriately) and fabricated by see below
More Stoke-on-Trent sculptures to follow!

Friday, June 3, 2011

RHS Chelsea Florist of the year.

This year at Chelsea Flower Show, this year's theme was based on 'A day at the races'. The competition was set in two halves Senior and Junior, each competitor had a jockeys vest to design and build which was co-ordinated by the British Flower Association.
Some of the detail is simply jaw dropping !

My other contribution this year was to make this life-size 2D willow sketch of a racing horse to set the scene, here it is being hung from the grand pavilion on show build week and a few shots during press day.

Monday, May 23, 2011

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2011.

Here's a sneaky peak at our tree feature in the continuous learning area based on the physalis (Cape gooseberry) form (Japanese lantern) as it degrades and exposes its berry.

I've created a 4.5 meter tall piece with a handsome canopy made from a combination of willow, steel and tissue paper, subtly illuminated with LEDs.

The project pulled in assistance from the whole family, my three year old daughter presented me with a real physalis stem last autumn "hey daddy, this is for you" and I hung it in my office and drew inspiration, my father in law volunteered his skills more than once, my brother in law helped out, my nephew (Rory) who is an electrical whizz, the wife and finally my Dad. It's a touching realisation that this is 4 generations pulling together, to help me achieve my goals, if ever there was a reminder of the beauty of families...

So onsite last week, I tapped up my friend from Kew, a flower show wouldn't be complete without help planting from Steve, we have ferns, foxgloves, scabious, grasses and lavender all set naturally beneath the foot of the tree framed by a lovely oak bench.

The show is on until next saturday and will be covered by the BBC.

I wonder what my daughter will find this year ..........

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Landscape Show at Olympia Kensington.

Last week we created a show feature for the this year's Landscape Show at Olympia Kensington,
Olympia really is lovely inside, with lots of natural light flooding in and the whole show was very well... erm... organised... by the organisers!
The 2 day event saw a steady flow of professionals seeking out its charms, aimed at urban garden spaces with a huge wealth of ideas and creativity for lovely green interiors too.
We put together a poppy and honey bee installation dressed with hostas, bark and our handsome oak bench.

Here is a view from the balcony, can you spot us?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Significant Figures.

I've got my name in a book... it's alongside several makers that I have the utmost respect for, I am in fact doffing my linen cap as we speak.
It's a book by Derek Reay which logs 86 working artists and craftsmen in Britain, a broad cross-section of makers from a bookbinder to a stone carver.
It feels like a moment in time captured.
Some of the said makers are the last in their line, some achieving the highest awards their industry can bestow, all carving out a path of their own.
In the foreword section of the book written by David Linley, he reminds us that 'Significant Figures' rejoices in the skills of craftsmanship, it also serves as a prescient reminder of the need to encourage the British government and educational authorities to nurture the skills of such trades in the younger generation and help to preserve them.
This seems so apt at present, for years we seem to have been moving away from anything with a simple healthy process, but then in recent years I've noticed a real change... more and more people are growing, cooking, baking, making, fixing and creating! It's simple stuff, but process is the calming, grounding focus that all our minds need from time to time. Thank goodness for deadlines or I would be far too content and relaxed!

Anyway the author Derek Reay is planning a traveling exhibition very soon, based upon the book so I will keep you informed where and when, but for now here is the section written about me and my sticks:

Please click on the image to read the text.

Available at all good independent book stores, or here.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Poppy seed heads.

These 'Poppy Seed Heads' were designed as a Public Art Feature for a site near to Livingston to marry in with the construction of a new garden center, they are sitting beside the Old Road (A89) to and from Edinburgh.
The seed heads incorporate a steel armature and are woven tightly with a basketry willow. They stand a whopping 5 meters tall and there are 11 in total, some of which lean around and communicate whilst others are a little aloof! They're set against the landscape of the Pentland Hills, which is a stunning site and helps to frame the work.

Incidentally on the drive up North the co-pilot and Sat-Nav system failed me and we were heading as the crow flys directly over the snow laden hills in our 7.5 tonne truck, an executive decision took us around them, safety first!
Standing or driving beneath the poppies is quite a childlike experience and ethereal, which reminds me of being under water looking up at plant life trailing under the surface... hmm, that gives me an idea...