Last chance tomorrow to see the
WAVENEY VALLEY SCULPTURE TRAIL
FRI 17 AUG – SUN 16 SEPT
The Raveningham Centre, Beccles Road, Raveningham, Norfolk NR14 6NU
Open every day 10am – 5pm
Meg’s new installation – Sweet Chestnut Oak and Hornbeam – can be seen at site no 15 – Six dryad masks relating to Dr Bach’s intuitive plant remedies.
Oak, Sweet Chestnut and Hornbeam
My installation consists of six masks of dryads or tree spirits, entitled:
Robust Strength and Pointless Obsession : Oak
Faith and Extreme Anguish : Sweet Chestnut
Confidence (in the Ability to Survive) and Confidence Lost : Hornbeam
I chose a small perfect hornbeam to be the focus for my work last year, but I broke my wrist and wasn’t able to complete the installation I planned. The hand was missing, as was my own, temporarily. By coincidence and entirely aptly, my homeopath sent me a Bach flower remedy – Hornbeam – “for one who doubts strength to face or to cope, but usually accomplishes; for convalescents doubting the strength to recover.” Making the piece was an important part of my recovery.
This year’s installation involves three trees in the gardens at Raveningham that are the source of Dr Bach’s intuitive remedies – oak, sweet chestnut and, again, hornbeam. I chose six trees growing near to each other, two of each species. One of each pair appeared healthy, the other ailing and in need of a remedy. The six dryads thus represent ailments and remedies.
Dr Bach used his powers of observation and intuitive skill to tune into plants and develop a deep understanding of their nature. His research and discoveries inform the design of the dryad masks. I photographed and measured the trees I had chosen and did bark rubbings. I made drawings of the six characters. I also did other research – especially reading an inspiring book The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohleben – and thought deeply about the characters. I worked on the colours present in the bark and the characteristic patterns and bulges which the trees produce when branches have been removed, and which often look like human eyes. I wanted the dryads to appear to grow out of the trees, be less obviously visible, requiring to be searched for. (Looking for and failing to find the missing hand last year kept many people busy, so they looked much more closely at the trees than they might otherwise have done.) I have changed and finished the hornbeam piece from last year, working on the colours, repositioning and adapting it.
As an artist I need to observe closely, in minute detail, and open myself to an intuitive understanding of my subjects. I feel it’s a way of working that is similar to scientific research, and the work of a therapist with a patient, which brings me back to Dr Bach.
The style of the masks is a mixture of the playful and the slightly sinister (tree spirits are not always benign).
For materials, I have used self-hardening clay, paint, muslin, papier-maché, willow, lichen, moss, leaves, twigs, which have proved to be surprisingly resilient out of doors.