Not exactly inviting weather for drawing outside this morning, but the gazebo was cosy, the sun came out at lunchtime, and those who came to draw spent most of the day in the treehouse corner, which was lovely. Animating this space with people, particularly children, is always wonderful. And they took to the trees as well (of course), and the treehouse too.
I don’t remember who wrote the following, but I’ve kept the cutting, and its words have rung in my ears since I started the Treehouse project: ‘Trees need to be lived in, whether by birds, insects, small children or the souls of poets – or, as the ancient Greeks thought, by nymphs.’ The same writer quotes Andrew Marvell from his poem ‘The Garden’ :
‘Casting the body’s vest aside, / My soul into the boughs does glide; / There like a bird it sits and sings, / Then whets and combs its silver wings.’
This weekend is the last chance to come down to our special place, The Dove (SAW venue 21) and catch what has been a much visited and dare I say much loved exhibition (the comments books say so, anyway). Here’s a round up of what you will see when you come, and what, in the words of one visitor, is ‘rich and lush’.
Here’s how the tree house platform looked this evening; the structure revealing itself a little more each day as the leaves fall.
This weekend we are running an event for all ages: Design (draw) your own treehouse. This is a free drop in workshop, with all materials provided. Hope to see you down here!
Run out of words this evening – lots of visitors over the past few days – so here is the weekend in pictures.
We made it. Time for a rest now (3 days off and then we start again – come and see us!)
Saturday September 2nd was the final day of the treehouse build. I should say treehouse platform build, because that is so far what we have made. We have made, in essence, a tree for the house to go in. Quite an achievement, and the only reason why we couldn’t complete the whole of this ambitious project in time for Somerset Art Weeks later this month was because of unforeseen events that led to 5 course date cancellations (injury, work commitments…).
So here we were, with a staircase to put up, balustrades to make and the small matter of a floor. It was all hands to the plough on this beautiful September day.
The stair treads are metal; won’t slip, will last, easy to bolt in place (see through, too, which for me is key – this is becoming the invisible tree house). Huge thanks to Paul Bannell at Bannell Engineering in Glastonbury for making these up for us out of a sheet of metal. He made the metal ‘feet’ of the main frame too, and has become a major sponsor of the project.
Marcel and Josh did heroic work, dragging a huge old flagstone over to the site that in the end wasn’t used – thanks all the same you two, for our building Stonehenge moment:
And all day it was more of the same: Jim making the stairs, with some help from Ali taking a break from the catering, Joe Rosa and Bethan soldiering on through ALL the laths, cutting tenons for the balustrade, and some moments of relief: cute dog moment, and Joe up an apparently unclimbable tree:
By the end of the day the staircase was up, though there’s still work to be done on the cantilevered platform it leads up to.
It was getting dark; I made cheese on toast for one last push of energy from everyone. Joe and Bethan were still working on the back balustrade,
And Jim had to get a torch out to finish securing the staircase. A fabulous day of great effort and commitment, and it’s set to continue. So watch this space for the next stage of the project (the House itself) and come and see the platform during Somerset Art Weeks: 23rd Sept – 8th Oct, 11 – 6pm, closed Mon Tues Wed; Venue 21.
First up (or down) yesterday were the Main Frame Foundations. Jim is hugely excited by the possibilities of Surefoot Foundations; a radical (yes indeed) new system that operates like roots, is reversible, and uses no concrete. So in a way, our main frame is a quartet of trees, and yesterday they were rooted into the earth, in the space of an hour and with relatively simple equipment. It may not look pretty, but it does the job, and stability is hugely important for what will go on above. And from certain angles, the whole thing looks like it hasn’t quite landed (as does everyone else in this photo)
After the relief of getting this done so efficiently and with so little disturbance to the ground, everything quietened down: more shingles were made and for the rest of the day we worked on joists, floorboards and the curvy front balustrade.
And then everyone went home, after nearly 10 hours work. As the sun set in a pink sky, I wandered over to the site, and this is what was happening: the structure and the trees were almost indistinguishable from one another.
You can see this even better in this photo I took this morning.
Last year I went to New Mexico and became entranced by the pit fired work of the Pueblo potters in the area around Albuquerque.
I posted about this on my personal blog, and began to think we could do something similar here at the Dove. Since we have 3 very good past and present Dove Potters: Pauline Watson, Paul Stubbs and Mike Dodd, I decided to ask them help me run a family workshop this summer. We didn’t attempt the fine painting and carving techniques of the Pueblo potters; we made simple clay pots, some with slip added, some burnished. Here is the story of our playing with the clay.
While the pit firing was underway we had a barbecue (any excuse for a party). The fire smoked through the night until about 5 am, so for about 12 hours. It didn’t reach a very hot temperature, but was enough to give us interesting results, some of which will be shown in our Amazing Space II exhibition later in September.
This year for Somerset Art Weeks we are not having a preview – instead I’m showing a preview of works on WordPress and Facebook as they arrive, as a flavour of things to come. This time it’s Myfanwy Morris’s photos from New Zealand. Myfanwy is one of the artists invited to create work for Amazing Space II – her line of work is darkroom photography. The plan was that she would spend part of the summer in the darkroom here, making images of people who live and work in and around the Dove. That plan was horribly upset by HM Border Control at Bristol airport, who decided to deport Myfanwy back to New Zealand, instead of granting her a six month tourist visa which she had hoped to receive. She had been here for a couple of years on a young person’s work and travel visa which ran out at the end of April. Myf was grudgingly granted 5 days to pack her bags and fly back to NZ, during which time she raced around shooting 9 reels of film – an extraordinary achievement for someone in a traumatised state, but then Myf is an extraordinary person, and utterly committed to the Dove project. So, yesterday, less than 4 months later, a parcel arrived. So exciting – here is the unpacking.
And after that were the dozen or so mounted images that we will be showing in SAW 17. As I said, this is the preview….