....Research Topics and Speculation about Art and Public Space by Scottish Citizen and artist Matt Baker

Monday, 4 October 2010

A Great Day in the Village

The launch event for the New Luce project was one of those wonderful days in life. There were comfortably in excess of 100 people (remarkable considering there are only 62 houses in the village) in the Village Hall to hear music from the New Luce Fiddle Crew and Alex Fergusson MSP declare the project officially open.
Rt. Hon Alex Fergusson MSP. Presiding Officer Scottish Parliament. photo Adam Lee

Una Forster (right) and Lyn Logan from the village both worked on the project - Una first brought forward the idea for a contemporary artwork for New Luce in 2007 . photo Adam Lee

Because there were so many people we split into three groups for guided walks around the artworks

On the Cross Water bridge in the village. photo Adam Lee

chatting in the Lagganamour wood. photo Adam Lee
Main Water Tryst. photo Jack Garnsworthy

there seems to be a special kind of reflective energy about going for a walk and seeing art on the way. photo Jack Garnsworthy

Ramsay Donnan of Knockiebae - New Luce farmer

After the walks there were readings in the Kenmuir Arms - poet Mary Smith (standing) read her own work and Jane McQuistin read from a short story by local author Sara Maitland

The two main themes to the work are :
a) The village exists because this extensive area of landscape and farmland needs 'a centre' New Luce is not on the way to anywhere ie it is not a staging post, it is not a market...rather it is necessary as a place to gather and share communal resources (now the pub, the church and the post office...previously this list included a blacksmith, a joiner, a mill etc). The position of the village was determined by the meeting of two rivers (and hence two bridges in close proximity). This idea of a 'necessary centre' symbolised by the meeting of two rivers is one theme.
b) New Luce is remarkable for the way that natural processes (eg lichen and moss growth, oxidation etc) continue in the landscape mostly undisturbed - to the effect that you find extraordinary things like a beech tree grown right around a discarded iron fire surround. This became our second theme - using materials that would quickly react and change  in response to each other and the weather.

This is the interpretation board for the project which is now fixed outside the village hall (designed by local firm Scotts Signs):

The overall artwork comprises four individual works - two in the village and two just outwith it's limits

Main Water Seed is one of the works inside the village. There is one Seed on each of the 2 bridges. A Seed comprises a bronze cast form held above the river by an oak structure. Each bronze form is one half of a whole, if they were ever to be released into the water the viewer is invited to speculate that the two halves might be joined together in the Turn Wiel - the swirling pool that exists where the two rivers meet.

The forms of the Seeds contain traditional and contemporary agricultural references eg plough, hayrake, clutch release bearing and electic motor winding - these together with river forms eg fish traps.

The works outside the village are the Trysts - this is the Cross Water Tryst - it is at the point of a very sharp meander in the river such that the river flows just out of shot on both sides of this photo. Each of the five stools is named for a feature that the river has passed through on its journey through the landscape to reach this point. The bases are a lead container filled with river stones and the lead then beaten over the shape of the contents. The brown colouration comes from a reaction between the tannin in the oak discs with the lead.
Cross Water Tryst- detail.In the top of each oak disc is a pool of coloured resin

The second Tryst is the Main Water Tryst - this is a cairn-like construction that echoes the 'bings' made by local farmers when they clear a field of stones for ploughing. There are five curved strips of copper beaten over the rocks, each has a pebble in the centre and the name of a feature of the Main Water punched into the metal. The Cairn is built around the living stump of an ash tree which is already putting new growth out through the gaps between the stones. I see the tree as an essential part of this work. Copper inhibits the growth of moss and algae - so this green material will only develop on the cairn in the areas untouched by water that has run over the copper.

Detail of copper beaten over a pebble in the centre of one of the curved strips. photo Jane MacLachlan

Cross Water Seed - the two Seed structures are leaning out over the river, held in position by bronze chain. All the metalwork on the sculptures is bronze (with the exception of the lead gusset in the v joint). the oak will go silver grey with time and the bronze with develop its own patina with the atmosphere combined with the tannin in the oak.

Cross Water Seed - detail

A big thank you to everyone who came and made Saturday such a memorable day - special thanks to my assistant on the project Jo Warner - and all good wishes to Jo and Jamie for their wedding day this Thursday

1 comment:

  1. Well done Matt, wished we could have been there for the launch, will be sure to make a trip to New Luce to enjoy the place and your work.