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

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Lode Stones - a sculpture for Treshnish

Four years ago I made a work called Seabone for my very good friends Carolyne and Somerset Charrington who farm Treshnish on the Isle of Mull:

Seabone 2008 - granite and bronze
18 months ago Carolyne first suggested another commission for Treshnish (and specifically for Somerset),ever since we have been working on ideas together. On 14th July 2012 the new piece was completed and installed - it is called Lode Stones.
Treshnish is a rugged peninsula on the North-West coast of the Isle of Mull (Inner Hebrides) - Carolyne showed me a place on the shore that they call 'the boathouse'. 

Abandoned boathouse far left
The story of the Boathouse is that it was built by the previous owners of the land - at this time the Treshnish Islands (group of 8 uninhabited islands designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest principally because of their bird population) were part of Treshnish farm and the boathouse stored the boat used to cross to the islands.

View of the Treshnish Islands from Treshnish Point
Map of Northern Mull showing the position of the Treshnish Islands

Our discussions focussed on using the artwork as a means of amplifying the spirit of the place - rather than the artwork becoming the 'focus' and using the setting as its backdrop. We talked about the connections between the Treshnish Islands and the farm and the work that Carolyne and Somerset are embarked on at Treshnish to farm in a manner that encourages biodiversity and wildlife (in 2011 Treshnish won the RSPB Nature in Farming Award).

Lodestones (or loadstones)  are naturally occurring magnets. Pieces of lodestone, suspended so they could turn, were the first magnetic compasses.

loading up for the installation - this is my new definition of the 'ultimate installation vehicle....Somerset has a hybrid Quad Bike Pick-Up. Photo Carolyne Mazur
Our path through the meadow. Photo Carolyne Mazur
Carolyne and Somerset unpacking the parts of the sculpture
Fixing the bronze hangers. Photo Carolyne Mazur

There are three cast bronze hangers - each carries the name of wildlife found on both the farm and the Treshnish Islands. Silver Y (moth) Sea Mouse-Ear (plant) and Storm Petrel (bird). The castings were made at the Archibald Young foundry in Kirkintilloch (Nr.Glasgow)

Each hanger carries a carved granite boulder suspended by cast bronze chain.

 The carved boulders are marked with the points of the compass and each compass point has, at its centre, a metal roofing nail salvaged from the derelict boathouse. The boulders are hung, so that when they are stationary, they are set to the orientation of the place.

This boulder has South inscribed on the underside and is hung from 'Storm Petrel' - a bird that makes and annual migration to the Southern Hemisphere
Lode Stones with shore and the Minch behind
Somerset, Cap and Lode Stones
Lode Stones photographed by Carloyne the evening they were first installed.
It is a rare privilege to be able to make a pice of work for such a resonant piece of landscape. I have been visiting Treshnish and Mull for 15 years - it informs everything I do.