Monday, November 29, 2010

Catch up with Kew.

This is long overdue, but quite apt since 2011 is set to be the third year that the Seed Walk is to be exhibited at the the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.
It was way back in summer 2008 that Kew contacted me to discuss the project, the brief was to design and build 10 seed sculptures of Gigantic proportion to celebrate their 250th anniversary and to mark the millennium seed-banks collection of 10% of the worlds rarest seeds now safely stored at Wakehurst place.
Kew brought a shopping list of potentials and I added mine, the final 10 were selected on their ability to translate and be recognised by the viewer and here they are ..

The first five were installed during march 2009 and then I delivered 1 a month to Kew where I ran workshops to help involve the visitors. This was great for me working within Kew meeting some of the UK's most respected horticulturalists and such an international draw of visitors made for a very exciting residency.
It's such a charming space and a privilege to be on-site at those quite times before the gates open, sun rising, parakeets stretching their wings, squirrels scampering in the bins and staff on bicycles... I spent a lot of summer 2009 in Kew staying local and feel a real connection with the place and people... there are far too many people to mention who made this special and contributed to the Seed Walk, there is no denying that this was an Epic project, weaving with frozen sticks, digging narrow 1.5 meter deep holes, sleeping in the back of the van.
The seeds now firmly planted near the main gate are well established and really have nestled themselves into the landscape .
If you haven't had chance to see them yet, 2011 may be the last year, so, treat yourself to a day at the Gardens!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Shaving horse

The shaving horse is a holding device for working wood. I like to think that before the age of the D.I.Y. store most good households would have had one to work timber down to size.
I built a standard H frame horse around 12 years ago when I first discovered greenwood, which is now firewood! This served it's purpose but I never found it that practical having to feed the 'job' (wood) through the 'H' especially if it was a long job.
I've been meaning to make a 'dumbhead' style horse for ages since I had the eye for a Mexican design folding chair that would require some serious draw-knife action. The dumbhead is based on a 'T', so you can slide work in from the side and in and out with ease.
Thankfully a little pocket of downtime allowed me to play and here it is! There's still some fine tuning to do, and to add to my shopping list next time I visit the woods I'll be looking out for a bit of bowed ash, this will become the front leg (singular) and the two existing front legs will be 'retired'. Four legs is great on the flat but on uneven ground they're a pest. 3 legs are the future!

The body and components are all made from left over oak grown at Staunton Harold in South Derbyshire (up the road) and the legs are sweet chestnut.
It was all roughed out with a chainsaw first, then fine tuned with hand tools.
I took the opportunity to rattle out duplicate blanks for my mate to so he could build one too.
The head here was an experimental bit of whittling from way back and I thought it may work for this delicate job, it will need an upgrade soon enough to a good heavy one.

Ironically my families business has been in tool holding specifically chuck jaws for lathes dating back to 1946. My Great Grandfather William Morris was in partnership originally with a man called Dunn, hence the name Mordun, their work moved into a computerised era producing work internationally with my father also William at the helm and here's me building possibly one of the very first holding devices in history operated with my foot... fresh from the tree!
Brilliant! I'm sure he'd approve...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Award winning!

I've Just Heard!
Anthea Guthrie's Shakespeare garden at RHS Hampton Court Palace flower show has been awarded a GOLD Medal, Congratulations!

My contribution to this was three little woven lambs in white willow, the garden is called 'As you like it' designed and built by Anthea Guthrie.

Phoebe, the shepherdess in the play lives in the Forest of Arden where she has created a romantic forest garden. Her garden features a small meadow enclosed by hazel fencing, an oak stump shelter with honeysuckle around the entrance and a mossy bed.
The planting is calming and natural it includes trees such as English oak, silver birch, hawthorn and hazel. Ferns, ivy, ladys mantle, even flowering tobacco and wild strawberries are spread throughout the garden.
Those lambs are gonna be well fed over the next few days... they have broken free from the folly and may well be terrorising some of the other show gardens!
The Flower show is on until the weekend so you could see it in the flesh or BBC two are covering the show on Monday, Thursday and Friday this week around 7.30pm .

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

One last brew.

One last brew as we eagerly await my father-in-law with his machine to load the new works for The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2010.

Next to the iPhone, the 'Kelly kettle' or storm kettle pictured below, has been a tool that fits directly into my life and has become a reliable friend... and of course, if I had to choose between the two?? Kelly kettle would win! Where would we be without a brew?!
A chance to stand back and reflect on where we have been and where we are going, whilst keeping us warm and quenching a thirst.
The Kettle is powered by fire, so also soothes my pyro-tendencies in a controlled environment.
If you haven't seen one it's a device of two halves, the bottom pan contains a small fire, - dried leaves and Willow offcuts are perfect! - and the top section is basically a double skinned chimney/flask that holds the water, the heat passes through the chimney boiling the water in anything from two to five minutes depending on how dry your kindling is.
Such a charming creation compact ,robust and works in all weathers . Don't leave your cork in though while brewing unless you have a soap on a string handy!

We're loaded, strapped down and ready to go.

A 4am start and arriving at the showground at 7.30.
Here are the components being lifted into place, directed by Pete Loramer who personally worked on the steel frame for this giant sculpture.

Another piece being lifted into place guided by Andrew Langley MD of Artfabs and Pete who I have strategically shot here behind the sculpture so as not to distract from it's beauty - they're not looking their best at this time of the morning!

Here it is, The RHS Tree of knowledge, designed for the Royal Horticultural Society's first ever garden which sits within the continuous learning area in the Grand Pavilion .
The tree ties in with the year of biodiversity and we have invited members and celebrities to share their words of wisdom/messages that encourage life in the garden. All of which are to be written on leaves and attached to the tree... Still there's a lot to do before then!
Jeremy Irons, Chris Beardshaw, Sarah Greene, Julian Fellowes and David Bellamy are amongst the contributors.

At this point I had been onsite weaving for two days and true to his word as always Leigh arrived with our bench and it's two makers.. Sue Tranter and Gary Ramsden, both of which are students at Warwickshire college studying furniture making.
They both embraced my design and the opportunity to create a piece for the show and to put the final piece towards their end of year project. Problem solving, decision making, and communicating throughout resulted in a final curved bench that is absolutely Gorgeous!

Piecing it together...

and it's comfy too!

I also enlisted the help of my friend Steve who has been the plants man for all of the BBC Gardeners World Live features that I've been involved with.
He's on the Kew diploma now. Chrissie offered her help too, which was quite a relief to have them there and great to watch them reacting to the sculpture with confidence .

Monday, May 3, 2010

Made in Leicestershire

I am exhibiting work at the Ferrers gallery renowned for it's British contemporary craft exhibits on the Staunton Harold Estate.

The exhibition simply called 'Made in Leicestershire', features selected artists from the said
The venue is fantastic situated within the courtyard of the Ferrers Centre for arts and crafts. I've run workshops there annually for the past few years .
I've created a gourd pod here woven in willow which sits centrally indoors, yeah I know, indoors! on the middle floor of the gallery .
Catching my eye at the show was work by Jenny Creasey who makes sculptural ceramic pieces small, delicate paper-like forms from porcelain.
Jan Bowman with intricately woven yarns and fine copper set into drift wood.
Also, Claire Fairall's hand knitted/felted bags seamless and perfectfly formed.
In fact the two floors of work delivers a real cross section of talent in Leicestershire, the exhibition is on until the end of June.
Check it out, grab a coffee and a cake in the courtyard and then walk it off in the grounds for a very pleasant day out!

Woven flowers and honey Bees

Wakehurst Place is Kew Garden's country garden set in the beautiful West Sussex countryside.
This time they've asked me to create a feature in their wild meadow where this year they've been working hard on an apiary. 2 of the 4 hives were in action today... more to come.
The exhibition will feature a closer look at the world of the sweet and fundamental importance of bees existance for all life on earth.

The large flower is 11 feet tall and has been woven around steel in a Flanders willow which will mellow to a kind of coppery colour as it seasons.
The bees are also steel framed to which I've woven a steamed Salix Triandra and a vivid yellow willow, the name of which escapes me...
The idea is to use the arch feature as a view point to observe the bees and lean on the fence and have a natter.
It was a very long day, a 4.30am start should be back for 9pm !... I am though, very pleased with the result and I hope you like it too.

Thanks to Ian for all the support and the wedge of carrot cake! And to my Dad, for driving and grafting.

View over the millennium seed bank.

Signage, oak frame... Nice!

View of the apiary through the new gateway feature.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Here come the 'Gourds'!

Here are 'The Gourds', there are three in total tightly woven around a steel frame, designed for a very special Nursery, as play structures within the Norman Jackson Centre in Richmond.

They are a development from my root sculptures which reside at RHS Wisley model vegetable garden.

The project in Richmond has drawn form a variety of artists, each bringing something very unique to the table. Work is still in progress at Hampton Hill.

The garden itself designed by Benedict Green at www.greengardendesign was an idea driven by Pheone Cave, this will be an exceptional space once completed and I will revisit to document it in the spring.

Below, The Gourds in the workshop and then on site being installed:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Willow gardener.

It must seem like I've been missing in action since I last wrote on this little blog, and you would be right, although I'd prefer 'weaving in action'!

Here is my friend the blackbird who has been a regular visitor to the workshop this year singing for his supper, indulging in my sandwich left overs and he sometimes gets a look in before I do!

In the lower half of the image is a willow gardener designed for a new garden center in Aberdeen, he's near completion here.
The second image is a close up of the weave and then finally the installation which was timed during a blizzard which hit across the East Coast and raised the bar from what was already an epic road trip from down here in the Midlands to a Real adventure, bailing off the main car logged tracks at times to investigate some of the more slippy scenic routes .

Willow man


Does my bum look big in this?

11ft high gardening Willow Man, Aberdeen.