Tuesday, 4 August 2009
Snowhill Manor, Gloucestershire - National Trust
I went to visit this place on Sunday as it promised to be fine weather and l wanted to see this collection of artefacts gathered together by Mr Wade who lived their c.1900s. He was a bit of an eccentric and all his collection of objects, which came from all over the world, were housed in the house whilst he spent most of his time living in the priest's house opposite! Above his bed he hung a stuffed bat which the NT staff there fondly call Ruby! It is alleged that writers, actors and artists met there for fancy dress parties in the Great Hall or Dragon room (because of the big fireplace). All the wealth came from a sugar plantation in the West Indies, St Kitts, which only his wife visited on a regular basis to manage the estate.
It a bit like visiting someones attic, the objects although quite interesting seemed rather a "hotch potch" as l overheard someone saying, and the only African mask which was a bronze tourist replica of a Yoruba leopard motif, was in amongst delicate jewelry of mixed origin.
However as l was wondering around the garden l noticed a little house with a set of stairs leading up to it reminiscent of Charles Simmonds work, which held my attention and reinforced my continuing interest in architecture, walls and floors. This l thought might have potential for something.
Will need to photograph the rocks again when we get some sunshine this summer!
It is important to me to use natural light in all my work to bring out the form and depth, but it can often add a natural sense of drama and contrast too which l like. It reminds me of the light in the Kenyan landscape which was often theatrical, especially when there was rain coming over the plains.
The previous images and text, as well as showing the process of casting the rocks, explain my intentions and ideas. I need to make the plinths for the work next, which l envisage being white MDF bases with a perspex box dropped over the top of them, flush with the base below.
I have been thinking about the natural environment in Africa, in Kenya to be precise, and how it compared with my first experiences of Abuja, and Lagos and even the more rural areas of Owerri and surrounding area. I still feel that the beauty of the Kenyan landscape surpasses so much l have seen in Nigeria so far.
With this in mind, l decided to make casts of the Kenyan rocks l brought back. I selected these for their originality, colour, texture, shape and most of all the meaning and memory these rocks embody for me. I collected these from the outreaches of different parts of Kenya when l went out walking with the Mountain Club of Kenya. This was a time l very much treasure as it was a great way to see and experience the culture and the landscape first hand, and it was affordable to do. Rocks themselves symbolise an accumulation and consolidation of time and history, which also appeals to me.
My thoughts about Nigeria was that this natural beauty was not valued as much there and the scramble for material wealth and status was all too important, and yet in spite of Nigeria's indigenous wealth with oil and mineral reserves, including gold, people seemed to be impoverished on both levels. Corruption was rife and has lead to a rather volatile society, so it seemed from the outside.
This lead to the idea of casting these rocks making replicas, or fakes, which were then gold leafed showing the contrast between the natural and man-made, but also questioning the value of each type of rock, the gold fake and the authentic natural rocks, the rich and poor.
I want to present them together next to each other in gallery cases, thus giving them status and a presence, in order for the audience to question in their own minds the value and worth of things in their own lives.