What a whirlwind few weeks, and as the dust settles and my return from my project in Waldshut, Germany, I seem to have become an award winning (more about that here), international artist!
I have just spent the most fantastic week in Germany. After being approached by Hardy Scheolch Waldshut-Tiengen culture and arts councilor (here's my original submission) back in March this year to join Josef Briechle in "a little sculpture project" little did I know what an incredible week it would lead to.
I flew out to Basel (Swizz) last Saturday with my chainsaws (thank you easyJet, you where fantastic!). I joined 6 other artists (including Josef) at the Rhine Campingplatz, just outside Waldshut (Lewes, Sussex Twin Town). The artists where from across Germany, Switzerland and Poland. As our raw materials, we had a line of huge Black Poplars which through age had largely become unsafe and the decision was made to fell them and encourage a richer more native selection of Rhine side regeneration.
I met my tree, which was pretty huge 3m + and a good meter across the base. We all started work on Monday morning after watching the most beautiful moon set over the Swiss hills on the other bank of the Rhine.
Being hosted by the wonderful Oliver and Sonja Bier, owners of the RhinePerle because of them and our other our individual sponsors and the generous forward thinking town council, we all were fed, water and generally treated like royalty, without it costing a cent. Quite amazing generosity. And it enabled us all to focus solely on our work, a very different working environment to my usual state!
My tree showing the shake that prompted a shift of 90° in the centre plank of my design, and in the background my home for the week, the Rhineperle Campingplatz.
Before our breakfast I would go for a walk along the banks of the Rhine - there was lots of signs of beaver activity and Kingfisher sittings almost every morning.
And so to work, a barrow load of cool kit
By Thursday my sculpture was really taking shape.
And by Friday morning I had added the finishing touches, with only the removal of the scaffold needed.
Friday afternoon all the artists where treated to a Rhine cruise hosted by the town council. Here's my sculpture from the river.
And so to our last day together. After spending so much time with a really wondeful group of people, literally living, eating, sleeping and working together, it was with a real sense of sadness the week was drawing to a close. All of Waldshut-Tiengen dignitaries turned up for the evening unvieling, after a steady stream of hundreds of people coming to see our finished work during the day on Saturday.
After speeches from the Oberburgermiester, Burgermiester and our own Josef Briechle we individually went to our own sculpture and introduced it to the audience and shared the meaning and the story of the sculpture, mine was the first along the path; 'Wassergeflecht' or 'Woven Water'
Then Adrian Buetikofer's 'Soul Wave' showed a very similar thinking behind my sculpture - the water of the Rhine - locked into the tree and the obelisk hinting at memorium.
Fritz Will a most splendidly outragous man - thought he'd give the Beaver something a bit tastier to gnaw on
Angela Hiss chose a line for Josef von Eichendorff's 'Wanders Song' for her title 'Balmy airs approach, blue and flowing
And last (on the path) but very much not the least was Franziska Uhl's 'Where we come from'. An extremely thoughtful and talented artist, producing thoughtful and extremely tactile work.
The final piece by our organiser Josef Briechle will take pride of place at the gateway from the Campingplatz to the Rhineweg called 'Vessel' it reflects the history of the Rhine and the transportation of fluids, wine, oil and waters.
It has been a wonderful week made all the more special by my fellow artists
I'm very happy to announce I shall be returning to Germany; firstly to the lovely village of Schmitzingen who will be celebrating their 750th anniversary by, in part by commissioning a sculpture from me - I shall be heading out there in July '16 for that for a few weeks, and then it looks like I shall be heading to the beautiful St. Blasien, in the Black Forest early in September '16 and a solo show at the Teignen Schloss some when in '17
So this will be my current essential reading:
Huge thanks to my lovely friends the Maier's - I owe all this excitment to you. Thanks to Hardy Schoelch and Jesef Briechle for inviting me to participate - to Oliver and Sonja Bier for their wonderful hospitality, the generous sponsors for making this happen - and my fellow artists - I'm missing you all already and I hope we will work together again in the future.