Immortalizing the sculpture – death is part of life.
The humanity of ‘process’ – the cycle of a project starts from an ending, a death of sorts. I gave up working in the way I had been and started with no clear agenda, just to ‘play’ and discover new ideas, sparks for beginnings. Looking back, my struggles seem trivial and I am tempted to minimalise them. This was a mental challenge which surprised me with its mix of stealth and ferocity at times, my paralyzing fear of the unfamiliar and my own pressure of needing a result or some measure of success.
I was getting used to standing alone and owning the space I was in finding my freedom like a child learning to walk and emerging as an independent being from dependency.
Many poetic things can be said about my experiences during this time. The quality of the elements, temperature, light, silence, movement, noise and nature all contributed to the sense of being in another world. It was my privilege to be gifted this space and time in which to explore. I felt part of a much bigger process and that felt good, I had a place and I had permission to be myself, that was enough.
Then came some clarity and the idea to create a piece of work which would also sit within the landscape in a similar and familiar way. Many smaller cycles evolved within this process; problem solving, applying for money, dealing with making work in a public space, new material and scale and the relational dependency of working with others. All areas of growth and experience which create foundations for life. I added in time to do a bit of research on the floating sculpture I filmed in and around and under the raft and then a straight drop down 4m deep into the lake, measuring the rope, curious to see what we could see in the dark depths these films are the sparks for new work and a new broader more openly inquisitive approach.
It was important to end the project, it was always going to be temporary work but the temptation to hang on to it remained. Oak is tough and enduring and on the face of it could have withstood more exposure outdoors. However, I needed to start a new phase, and this meant an ending, an absence was necessary. So, at dusk on October 17 I burned the sculpture whilst still floating on the lake and delighted with childish innocence in the merging of elements, air, water and fire. It was a personal moment laced with challenge and disbelief that it would successfully catch alight and burn – I was reliant on my brother’s much practiced pyrotechnic skills executed whilst floating alongside in a rowing boat.
It was my mother who inspired a love of big landscape, challenge and creativity in any form. When I was very young she took me to an illustrated talk the explorer Chris Bonnington was giving about his expedition to climb Mount Everest which fascinated me. There is something arresting about becoming a living part of a great landscape and rising to the challenges that entails. Later in life she enabled me to travel every part of the South Island in New Zealand with her at 72 years and my youngest child, then a 2 year old. So I would like to dedicate this project to her memory: a great maker of things herself, she would have absolutely loved hearing, reading and seeing every minute of it unfold.
Jane Micklethwaite 26.9.39 – 17.11.16