Monday, 28 December 2009

Langford Lakes

On a mild sunny Christmas morning I took my nephew to see the wildfowl on Langford Lakes in Wiltshire. My inner twitcher was a tiny bit disappointed that the cold weather had not brought in any rarities, but I took these two photographs.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Snow scene

England has been on its knees thanks to some snow. In Wiltshire we got off lightly but enough snow fell to turn the countryside into a wonderland. This was my orchard this morning.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Salisbury Illuminated Lantern Parade 2009

My friend Colin and I joined a thousand + in the Salisbury lantern parade organised by Toozalii Community Arts. Amazing giant lanterns: reindeer, angels, stars, fish, seahorses. Colin and I wore our lanterns on our heads. It was a bitterly cold night with a wind from Scandinavia. At the Cathedral a canon blessed us and carols were sung.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Gargoyle on hut

I have always been intrigued by gargoyles on old churches and I made one for the corner of a hut in my garden from a bent car grill. How it got so bent I don't like to think but it came from a scrap yard. Inside the hut a couple are in conversation.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Wiltshire Farmstead Project

I did some more work on the Wiltshire Farmstead Project and visited three farms in the south of the county. The idea is to record the old farm buildings before they are all converted into residences. In my village they all have. The top and bottom photos show an old hay loft still so used and in its rafters some old milking stools no longer used. In another farm the gatehouse of an old priory and leper colony, dating from 1300 onwards, serves as a cowshed and hayloft. The middle photo shows a squint in the metre thick wall of the hayloft, through which one could see potential enemies with minimum exposure.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Salisbury Sculptures

In Fisherton Street Salisbury crossing two little streams you can see these sculptures. Not a word of explanation, alas.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Old Wiltshire farm

I spent the day being trained as a volunteer researcher in the Farmstead Project to record old farm buildings in Wiltshire. This took place in a timewarp of a now inactive farm which dates back to the seventeenth century and is little changed since Victorian times. The photos show the stable for the carthorses, the two seater privy and the old brewery where the farm labourers also brewed up their Lipton's tea.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Mutate Britain under Westway October 2009

I managed to catch Mutate Britain One Foot in the Grove exhibition under Westway at the end of Portbello Road in London. The Glastonbury Festival is the main stomping ground of these amazing creatures and most people there were in Glastonbury mode. I was wearing a suit for a memorial festival which is probably why I got interviewed for a video clip. Will I make Youtube?

Saturday, 17 October 2009

London Community Resource Network

This week I went up to London with some sculptures to take up an invitation to show at the Annual General Meeting of the London Community Resource Network. The R in LCRN used to stand for Recycling but they have changed the name to reflect the wider issue of the use of resources. Also showing some sculpture was Michelle Reader, a fellow exhibitor with myself at the Love London Recycled Sculpture Show at WWT London Wetland Centre in Barnes. The photo shows her at the AGM with "Self portrait."

Saturday, 10 October 2009

After Mondrian

I noticed this Mondrian bollard in Winchester, Hampshire. Mondrian inspires people all over the world. I came across a bus so decorated in America on the internet. My own bathroom (above left) is so decorated and it is like walking into a 3D Mondrian painting.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Stands the church clock at ten to three?

Quite by chance I snapped my sundial at ten to three Greenwich Mean Time evoking by serendipity the famous lines in Rupert Brooke's 1912 poem of nostalgic longing for Grantchester near Cambridge : "Stands the clock at ten to three and is there honey still for tea?" Far too early for a Cambridge undergraduate to take tea but it rhymes. I made this sundial some ten years ago from odds and ends. "Carpe lucem" means "Seize the light." In England this year we had a glorious Indian summer so there was plenty of light to seize. (The parallel shadows on the left are from an open window and actually inspired me to take this photograph.)

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Warwickshire Topiary

I have been in Warwickshire looking at topiary gardens in order to organise a weekend tour for the European Boxwood and Topiary Society in May 2010. Above Packwood House, a National Trust property famous for its yew trees. Below Barcelo Billesley Manor Hotel has a garden enclosed by walls of yew. Inside these weird and wonderful shapes. More on

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Marston House Sculpture Garden

I visited the magical sculpture garden in the grounds of Marston House near Frome in Somerset which will be open until October 4th as part of Somerset Arts Weeks. In the grounds, the stables, old bread ovens and other outbuildngs of the old aristocratic mansion , now the offices of a quarrying company, four artists have arranged sculptures and installations The heads are by Barry Cooper and are inspired by Cycladic sculptures - each summer Barry works on the Greek island of Paros. The bench is by Anthony Rogers.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Urchfont Manor Sculpture Exhibition Wiltshire

I visited the biennial sculpture exhibition at Urchfont Manor in Wiltshire and these were my two favourites. Dancing Pig by Jon Barret-Danes and Harmony by Michael Speller.
The show finishes on Sunday.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Bradford on Avon Festival

I went to Bradford On Avon to place a Harlequin and a Kettleheaded Man in the group sculpture show to take place this weekend as part of the Bradford on Avon Festival in Wiltshire. The venue is the large garden of elegant Wellclose House in Belcombe Road. There will be a great diversity of sculptures. On Friday evening as dusk falls, there will be illumination.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Chiswick Business Park

Last week my harlequins and I attended a Recycling Event in Chiswick Business Park in west London. Usually that means some landscaping but there really is a park at the centre of this one and you have no idea of it from the street. There is a waterfall and a lake. The whole complex is run along lines that are as green as one can possibly make it. Intelligent louvres overhang the buildings and control the heat of the buildings. The water for the lake and the plants is saved from the roofs.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Harlequins gig in Chiswick

I have been preparing my harlequins for a gig at a Recycling event organised by Breathing Spaces UK Chiswick Business Park. Among the happenings an attempt will be made on the record for recycling a bag of rubbish for the Guinness Book of Records. The harlequin on the left has been exhibited before but it is a debut for the one on the right. To make that one stable I added a pet curling round its feet; its head is a flint. The armatures of the harlequins are made from odds and ends. The moustache came from a vacuum cleaner. The covering of the sculptures is recycled glass and chopped up CD's used for permeable paving, applied with silicone.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Imber the derelict village on Salisbury Plain

I went to Imber today on Salisbury Plain as the church was open and I wanted in particular to see the rare mediaeval wall paintings. They were hidden behind scaffolding as the church is being restored. Imber in the 1930's was a village totally owned by the War Department, except the property of the churches and the pub, and the surrounding vast area used for military exercises which co-existed with farming. In 1943 the village was evacuated at 47 days notice to allow street fighting exercises and it has remained uninhabited ever since. In 1961 an unsuccessful campaign was launched to try and prevent the permanent closure of the roads and to get the village restored. (As a child I went on a 25 mile car demonstration on the subject.) As a concession the Army allows access to the village at certain times of the year. The photos show the old manor house, Imber Court and the church behind a fence - the Out of Bounds sign is an order to the army.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Dante's Inferno

A bonfire produced this image of Dante's Inferno in my garden.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Olaudah Equiano

I have long been fascinated by the story of Olaudah Equiano who was taken as a slave a the age of eleven in West Africa to become a freeman in England campaiging against the slave trade and a best selling author. This is a sculpture by Christy Symington and it was on display at a book launch yesterday of "Equiano's Epigrams" by John Agard which tells Equiano's life in poetry. The book was launched at the Museum of London Dockland West India Dock. There are not many book launches where all those present are made to dance to instructions by an athletic Ghanaian dancer (the Nyanome Group). The sculpture has broken chains on the side (not visible in this image).

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Igbo Inspiration

I have been searching for an idea for a sculpture for a potential project in 2010 on the theme of biodiversity so I went to the British Museum, one of the world's most inspiring places. I want to reflect the idea of the interdependence of humans and the natural world. In many cultural traditions gods and humans become animals and vice versa. Sex was on themind of Zeus, the Greek super god when doing that sort of change - into an eagle or a bull or whatever - rather than biodiversity but there is in classical mythology the idea of the closeness of humans to nature, something often lost in the modern urbanised world. I thought maybe a totem pole with different creatures and humans joined in one might work. However, a totem pole does present logistical problems. In the African Galleries is this Igbo sculpture in which there is a melange of humans and animals. It stands on four legs which solves the stability problem. A starting point for my piece.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Driftwood Bedford Square

I came across this wonderful installation by chance in Bedford Square near the British Museum. Driftwood is the work of students of the Architectural Association and incorporates plywood slats provided by the Finns. It is there for a while (one website suggests that it should have gone by now ). Catch it if you can.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Cockatrice to go to Singapore?

I got a sales enquiry from Singapore for my Cockatrice, my Golden Raccoon and some other pieces. I will miss them if they go but it will make space to create some more. These were constructed from pieces of wood found in Wiltshire woodlands. The cockatrice was a monster with a cockerel's head in mythology. With three bits of wood I have created a sculpture of a cockatrice grappling with a multi limbed monster. Or maybe it is an amorous encounter.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

High Density CD horse unveiled at Horseworld Bristol

Yesterday exciting as Dean Williams' horse sculpture made with 3000 recycled CD's arrived at the Horsepower exhibition at Horseworld animal sanctuary near Bristol which I have been curating. The arrival was courtesy of DGT Transport of Lecicester who lent an enormous lorry and drivers free of charge for the day. High Density the horse rears up ten and a half feet. The BBC filmed its unveiling for the local news bulletin and showed some of the other sculptures.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Roadside Kill

There are some people who feed themselves on roadside kill, animals found by the road. I might if I knew what I was doing. However, I do collect odds and ends. I found the bit on the left beside the car park at Fleet Service Station on the M3 Motorway. It is anthropomorphic. I will mount it on the column on the right which was a chicken feeding trough. The column will be painted black. Black against green will look good in a garden. I will probably show it in the group sculpture show at the Bradford on Avon Festival in Wiltshire from September 18th to 27th 2009

Monday, 3 August 2009

The Last Tommy

I have been working on this sculpture for a while. The helmet was found decades ago in my garden which was the site of a camp in the First World War. It has a long crack (not visible in this image). Whether that was due to damage in war one can only speculate. For a long time the helmet hung in the porch and provided a nesting site for sparrows who carried on oblivous of people entering the house or sitting in the porch. But the sparrows have disappeared.
I wanted to create a memorial to those many men lying in graves in nearby Salisbury Plain who died of their wounds,dysentry and the flu pandemic having returned from France. I was not sure what to call this piece but the recent death of Harry Patch, the last surviving soldier to have fought in the First World War trenches, decided it.

Friday, 31 July 2009

The Greeneyed Monster

The Silver Eyed monster part 2. I was emailed with a question as to what the Silver Eyed Monster looked like when it was Green Eyed. It looked exactly the same except that it eye was copper turning green This shows him in his temporary black eyed stage back in February when I had removed the copper eye, a cymbal, that was poisoning one of the bushes in the yew hedge with a steady drip of copper.
I had also poisoned a whole lot of indoor plants including a giant Monstera (cheese plant) by incorporating small sculptures stuck on to copper tubes into the soil. (The tubes were only used because they were handy.) The poisoning inside and out took about six years and became manifest at the same time . Monstera, the Yew Monster and all the others have made a full recovery on removal of all copper.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

The greeneyed monster has become a silver eyed one. Yesterday more time sorting garden. I restored an eye to the Yew Monster. It had a copper cymbal as an eye - to become a green eyed monster - but after six years the neck began to wither and I was advised it was being poisoned by the copper. Its removal has led to the hedge recovering. So now it has a hubcap for an eye.

One of the sculptures , made by young offenders in Bristol, on show in the Horsepower exhibition at Horseworld near Bristol, has started to fall apart after a few days through over enthusiastic audience interaction. It is agreed to move it into the workshop for greater superivision. It is mainly papier mache and delicate.

My fellow curator Caroline Read may have found a sponsor to transport the rearing life sized horse of Dean Williams to the Horsepower Exhibition. The horse has starred in the local media including the BBC in Leicestershire and we hope we can get it to Bristol and attract similar interest. Dean sends me a copy of article in Leicester Mercury which shows him with the horse. It does look spectacular.