“101 Summers” – A sculpture for West Lavington Manor gardens
I was invited to be an artist in residence at “Celebrating Art in the Garden” to be held at West Lavington Manor in June 2014 and to respond to the theme of the centenary of the commencement of WWI. When I first visited the Manor earlier in the year, it was a cold, damp day and the gardens reverberated to the thud of artillery firing up on Salisbury Plain. It was a sombre reminder of the destructive power we can unleash when attempting to stabilise a volatile world.
The aim of “101 Summers” is to form a connection with the start of WWI and the continuing global conflicts of the following 100 years. Whilst researching ideas for this sculpture I was looking at imagery from the battlefields of Northern France and Belgium and found this photo of rusting artillery shells in a farmyard. It seems these are regularly discovered and earlier this year two people were killed near Ypres by a 100 year old shell. Even decaying chemical weapons still lie buried in farmers’ fields.
This one photo amongst many that I viewed seemed to resonate with my research and for me carries the essence of the industrialisation of warfare, the conveyor belt process of both mass production and mass slaughter. The stacking of the spent and rusting shells has a rhythmic beauty like a well made wood pile and yet our knowledge of their use has a far darker and more sinister meaning.
From these thoughts and concepts I made a series of drawings to explore the idea of a stacked sculpture that fitted the theme. I then set about the process of casting the 101 cylinders that form the main structure of the piece, and as the day by day making proceeded the character of the work evolved and it began to exert its presence in the studio and suggest to me what it wanted to become.
The finished sculpture is now on display at West Lavington Manor gardens until 22nd June. For opening times see: http://www.friendsofthegarden.org.uk/2014.htm