Review of Environmental Art by Howells Pupils
Dear Mr Pooley,
Thank you for recently replying to my email. The Year 1 class at Howell’s School have been learning about sculpture and were very interested in your environmental art, in Barry. We have used the Internet to look at the sculptures and wondered if you could answer some questions. I have also included quotes from the girls.
How did you do it?
Did you find any caterpillars?
Cadoxton Park 5 looked to us like “the solar system”
How did you draw on the wood?
How did you get marks on it?
Did you cut the tree down or put the log there?
How did you put the pattern on the log?
Cadoxton Park picture 6 looked to us like “a like dancing or bubbles and a long stalk trying to catch them, or a rainbow that is upside down.” What is it?
Cadoxton park 7 looks like “an elf or a ladies head”. What is it?
Porthkerry – comments from the class
2 – “it looks like magic and the wind blowing”
3 “It looks like a light hanging down and it is the shadow of the light”
4 “That is amazing, it looks like a leaf and a butterfly, it looks like a dead leaf, like something that floats around all day long or a mixture that witches use. So amazing, a maze, a spiders web, shattered glass, a pizza, a broken fossil, looking in the top of a tornado”.
When I showed them the rainbow bridge the girls clapped and cheered!
The rocks on the Knap beach were seen to be a Christmas tree, Christmas decorations, a snowman, a castle, yummy ice cream, Easter eggs, the red one looks like a wrapped up chocolate, a fruit kebab, a light house. They asked: How did you put the colours on?
Did you find them or paint them?
Is it a light house?
Do you know Andy Goldsworthy?
I hope that you will have time to answer these questions, for the girls, and share with us the ideas behind your art and how you did it. You are always welcome to come and visit.
We decided to use pieces of string on black paper to create some of our own pictures in your style. In the next lesson I am hoping to get some wooden pieces cut so that the girls can stick string designs on them and dye them with natural dyes. Maybe we can send you some pictures when they are complete? Many thanks,
Heather Scurlock (Year 1 Class Teacher) and all of the girls in Year 1.
Thank you for your lovely email. It is always encouraging to hear about the creative process being discussed and engaged with in such a positive way, particularly with children so young. Please find some answers below;
The sculpture was created from pieces of Elm that unfortunately died. They were transported to the park from another part of the Vale. Each piece was sculpted using tradition tools. The marks were made with a wooden mallet and a number of different size and shaped chisels. Very little was marked out before chiselling, the wood just ‘speaks’ to me, revealing the kind of marks to make. Although with this piece there was an overall theme of Celtic and natural forms with the addition of some dinosaur footprints that were found at Bendrix Rock in Barry ( Cadaxton Park2 ).
The marks found on CP6 are inspired by the kind of spiral patterns found on pre-historic stones in the U.K. and parts of Europe.
CP7 again follows the ‘Natural form’ theme ( leaves etc ), but the wood was ‘roughened and polished’ in such a way that when the light falls upon it in a certain way a number of different ‘heads’ can be seen on its surface, appearing subtlety as if behind the main marks. (I wonder how many of these ‘heads’ the children can spot?).
This piece was sculpted in the same way as above although this time into pieces of Beech from a fallen tree from another part of the park and into pieces of willow, a much softer wood that had been laying nearby for a number of years.
P2 was amazingly inspired by old Alchemical drawings I had studied a number of years previously and this was combined with the indication of ‘Natural Form’.
P3 is based on a leaf within some fruit with Celtic symbols for nature.
P4 was inspired by the ‘growth rings’ seen in the wood of tree and the web of a nearby spider.
Potala ( rocks on Knap Beach ).
This piece is a blend of ideas from many sacred traditions. The name Potala comes from the Dalai Lamas’s winter residence in Tibet, his home before being exiled by the Chinese who took over the country in 1959. The building is decorated in red, white and gold and is revered by many Tibetans. These colours also have sacred significance in Tantra, a tradition developed from Hinduism, practiced in India and parts of Tibet. In Tantra the colour red signifies the female, while white signifies the male. In this sculpture they have been employed in a vertical tower or lingam from the Hindu tradition. You will also notice that each tower has been surrounded by a circular ditch symbolizing the female ‘Yoni’. When the male and female energies are linked in union great power and insight can occur, thus the lingam is topped off with a golden stone, symbol of the sun, the life giver. There are nine towers in this piece which would be particularly significant in the Celtic tradition as the number 3 was seen as a special number; 3 times 3 was incredibly powerful. The Celts were also particularly fond of placing there monuments near water as they believed water was sacred and a way of entering the underworld which revealed the ancient knowledge of their ancestors.
When this piece was first made members of the public were asked to build their own tower around Potala in memory of a dear loved one. On New Year’s Day 2010 there were over 120 little Potala’s.
The pebbles were painted with acrylic paints found on the beach.
I know of the work of Andy Goldsworthy and Chris Drury but have never yet met them.
Hope this helps, please keep me posted on the progress of you project with the children.
With kind thoughts,