Tuesday, April 09, 2013

'Beehive Cell' - Haliburton Sculpture Forest

Haliburton Sculpture Forest - 2013 Submission
"A Secret Space"

"We are looking for a sculpture that creates a meditative space...designed in such a way that it evokes the feeling of a secret, special and welcoming place"
When I read the description for the 2013 theme, I was immediately struck by the though of an 'enclosed' space. Much of my own work is inspired and informed by objects and elements from history, especially that of the Celts and Northern European. The idea of a 'secret meditative space' made me think of the stone 'beehive' monastic cells, constructed by early Christian monks 1500 years ago in Ireland and Scotland. Made of locally found natural stone, carefully balanced, these small, roughly conical structures were used for just that same purpose - a small meditative space.
As an artisan blacksmith, I considered how the durability and solidity of steel could be applied to the same kind of form.
From my own visits to the Haliburton Sculpture Forest, I knew that the natural environment there was the most important element of how it evokes a sense of peace and wonder. How best to both create a sense of intimacy, yet still embrace the natural word?

'Beehive Cell' incorporates design elements drawn from many points of inspiration. It takes the overall form of a loose 'basket' of uprights that define a roughly conical enclosure. The individual curved elements are flared and diagonally cut at the upper ends, reminiscent of cut and bundled saplings.
Although initial concept was born of ancient Celtic mysticism, the form is also suggestive of a First Nations wigwam, or an inverted bird's nest. The overall shape is a oval, the curved shape of the entry way perhaps hinting of womb like enclosure?

By defining an interior space through the use of separately placed uprights, Beehive Cell both defines a secret and private enclosure, but allows the visitor to remain conscious of the natural world around. Sun and wind can easily penetrate the inside, birdsong clearly heard, animals glimpsed in passing. Three integral seats allow for ease of rest, time for contemplation.

The line of text from Rumi will be created with letters hot punched directly into a wide steel band set within the structure. This will be mounted at a height at roughly eye level to the seats, directly across from the doorway. In this the text itself becomes a 'secret' - to be discovered by those who venture into this special space.

The metal will be finished by a hot galvanized coating. This finish will initially provide a mottled and bright colour. Although highly durable, intentionally this coating also works in opposition to to the overall natural forms of both the sculpture itself, but also its setting. As the years mount, this surface will dull, but always this feeling of organic lines rendered in a human made material will persist.

Beehive Cell may be a bit larger than other submissions, with a oval interior at roughly 6 x 8 feet, and a rough total height of 12 feet. The interior space is some 9 feet tall at the centre. The doorway is tall enough to easily allow an adult passage, and wide enough at the bottom (about 36") to admit a wheel chair.

As an artist, I have hoped for years now that I might find a proposal suitable for inclusion into the Haliburton Sculpture Forest. As an artisan blacksmith, the connection to the nearby Fleming Arts complex is important as well. The requirement for works that would easily endure 25 years in place suggests creation of a work that will endure beyond my own self...

Ok, Ok!
Those of you who know me can stop rolling your eyes. This is my first real attempt (after all these years of carefully avoiding it) to use 'Arts-speak'. You all know I hate it. Stick two things together that have never been jointed before, then call it 'Man's Inhumanity to Man'. When I was a student at Ontario College of Art in the Seventies - the place was full of it (pun intended).
But truth is, I do really like the intention of the Haliburton Sculpture Forest. It has a wonderful atmosphere. Regardless of the individual works, the way individual pieces are discoveries as you walk a forest path is both restful and interesting. 
And its a paid commission - with realistic money too.

And honestly, I am not kidding about the 'life beyond the artist' part. The submissions are required to have a durability of at least 25 years. That would put me at what, 82 ? 
What are the odds...


Henry Troup said...

Did I overlook the wording of the text from Rumi?

This sounds amazing, and I hope they go for it.

STAG said...

Paid commission too!

Oh my,

the Wareham Forge said...

Bill - such faith! Its still just a *proposal*, and given the $$ amount, I am sure only one of many excellent submissions. I am hopeful...

Henry (et all) - The text line to be included is :
" Silence is the language of God, all else is poor translation."


February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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