Saturday, December 8, 2007
People often ask me how I got started, and it is a difficult question to answer. As a child I, like many kids, had fun creating miniature worlds out of things I found close at hand... twigs, moss, cones. It seemed so natural to expect that Faeries would choose these materials because they were of the landscape itself, just as it seemed -to me- they must also be of the land.
But my adult sculpture work began in earnest after a long period of creative drought and doubt. I realized that there was in me a calling to do something more meaningful for my own Soul. With timid steps I tried a few experiments in the early winter that was the end of 2005 and the beginning of 2006. They were not very exciting pieces but I loved being out there again working IN and WITH the natural world , rather than just standing back as an observer and taking photos or making paintings.
Then one day, I was walking along the lake shore on a very cold day in March. All winter long the winds had created huge waves which had crashed upon the cliffs in sub-freezing temperatures for weeks and weeks on end. The forms were fantastic ! Like pipe organs all along the shore, the long icicles had formed and fused together. The older ice was white with age....the younger icicles, dainty and fresh from the latest storm, were clear and sparkling... and it just called to me to come and try to make something.
I had seen a DVD of Andy Goldsworthy doing his work, and it seemed that working with ice, though challenging, was also fairly straightforward....hold ice against other ice, add some water in some way and hold it till it freezes together. Simple enough, I thought, so...I went back home, got my wading boots on and set to work. I had no idea what I was doing. I had to cut and haul free-standing icicles from a hundred yards away. Ice is heavy and delicate. I lost a few pieces along the way. I made mistakes... a lot of mistakes, I got cold...really cold. But is was so much FUN !!!
Entering that state that comes to us in deep concentration, or meditation, I began to learn and understand more and more about ice....it taught me how to work with the medium itself...it showed me how to build, how to plan, how to think ahead... and look for shapes in unexpected places. Literally hours went by and I was completely absorbed... and then with daylight fading, I had to give up.
Coming back the next day, to photograph the piece, I was stunned...it looked so crystalline in the morning light...a sparkling, glittering world of Faerie Magic ! And then I began to learn the second crucial lesson about this process...that making the piece was only the first step...creating a successful photograph was even harder, often, than creating the sculpture itself. I was lucky with this first work...the light was brilliant yet slightly overcast, perfect conditions for attempting to shoot a nearly all white subject. But later that afternoon, a sudden warm front came in and I would taste the third and perhaps hardest lesson of all in doing this work...letting the piece go back to nature. That night it rained all night. I hurried down the next day to see what might be left... and even in its melting and dripping state, with leaden grey skies in the background, it was still a thing of beauty...perhaps even more so now because it was giving itself back to the waters of the lake, which had given it a life of its own, but in a different form, for a few cold weeks.