The Riverscape Series
Bringing the environment into the work
This is my first summer working from the Chapel in Tuckingmill, Tisbury, and I am thrilled by the beauty of the countryside here. There is a space behind the chapel in which I enjoy working and have decided to literally bring these plants into the work. I’m incorporating plant prints, imprinting plants into glass enamel, and building up layers of colour to convey my experience of being in this place. They capture a record of the fragility of the miracle of what exists currently.
Water springs miraculously and flows in what is often an ancient course. Rivers carved their own groove through rock and land and ran together in confluence. Rivers have influenced trade, industry, farming, and where we live. Now they provide essential safe shelter for wildlife.
This group of work is about the brook that runs past my chapel studio and the wild plants that flourish there. Oddford Brook rises at Bitham Lake in Fonthill Gifford and meanders through Wiltshire farmland, past my studio, and joins the river Nadder. The chapel is located in Tuckingmill, named after a process in the linen industry.
On mid-summer day 2023, I decided to step into the brook and follow the bed upstream, as the surrounding banks were so overgrown. We entered the brook by my studio and walked and observed. The banks were leafy, shady, and dappled. Sunlight played on the surface of the water. The bed of the river was littered with rubble from buildings that once stood nearby, both in brick and stone. A thicket of alder, willow, hazel, mountain ash, oak, and birch, arched overhead, and wild plants such as nettles, comfrey, hogweed, wild mint, rushes, reeds, sedge, and grasses populated the banks. In places, animals have trodden paths to access the brook to drink. Generally, the banks are otherwise impenetrable, the foliage meets overhead creating a hidden dappled green tunnel.
I am delighted to show these works at The Vanner Gallery as part of Vessels, curated by Jacquiline Creswell, from the 3rd of November to the 23rd of December 2023. In May 2024 I am showing at the Vanner Gallery again, but this time it is a solo show.
The frame is curved to communicate a sense of light and movement when observing the faceted reflective glass. Water collected from the brook is used to dilute the enamels, the colours of which can never fade because they are fired to create a permanent layer of chromatic glass, and sand from the river bed is incorporated into the grout that fills the gaps between the glass pieces. The glass is cut to reflect my experience of the brook and collaged to allow the colours to mix and vibrate in the eye of the viewer.
My midsummer walk inspired a series of works, that follows on from the Sacred Waters Series, which is a series about holy wells and a river that crossed a pilgrimage route, the St Michaels Way, and serves as a stopping place. We walked the St Michael’s Way at the mid-winter solstice in 2022 and the works were exhibited at Tremenheere Sculpture in summer 2023, part of Wander_Land, with other members of the Royal Society of Sculptors. I am delighted that one of my larger sculptures, Stachys, will be installed at Tremenheere later this year.