A timeline for High Wood

We discussed the chronology of the area one day at Highwood Mill and it makes sense to archive this material with the stone. The landscape around is a palimpsest, like a manuscript on which later writing has been superimposed on effaced earlier writing; something reused or altered but still bearing visible traces of its past.

145 million years ago – the end of the Jurassic period – when our Portland stone was laid down – a little earlier than the softer Sussex chalk.

100 million years ago – sea levels 250m higher – highest of South Downs peaks would have been  little islands in the sea; Cissbury Ring underwater (warmer seas, less ice, more water in oceans)

60 million years ago – chalk formation from sea muds complete

130,000BC – last time the sea level was as low as today

20,000 BC – LAST GLACIAL MAXIMUM water levels 130 metres lower as a result of evaporation and transfer into the Laurentian Ice sheet

a time of the land bridge between East Anglian and the Netherlands/Germany “Doggerland” (and what is now Dogger Bank on the shipping forecast)

14,000 BC – start of rebound; Britain becomes an island again as waters rise

up to 10,000 BC PALEOLITHIC which lasted from about 2.6 million to about 10,500 years ago. Because of the simple, large tools used, this era is also called the Stone Age. Water level higher – we had raised beach up to Slindon/Boxgrove on the Downs at that time.

6000BC MESOLITHIC occupation – the end of the stone age – smaller lithic tools and weapons – microliths

occupation shown by presence of worked (or remains of) flint clusters – Wickhurst area

MIDDLE IRON AGE 400-200 BC “BEFORE CHRIST” (NOW “BCE” standing for BEFORE COMMON ERA)

1. occupation show by post hole remains and circular walls of hut circles (“dispersed farmsteads”)

2. circular hedge line around the base of High Wood COULD date from this time – a wealden oval enclosure started out as simple hedged bank and ditch 

3. pollen analysis of remains

4. funereal remains/pots

LATE IRON AGE  – to 25 AD- ish

“AD” NOW REPLACED BY “CE” COMMON ERA

100-200 AD Roman IRON The Wealden geology of sands and clays yielded the iron ore, as well as the stone and brick to build the furnaces; the woodland provided the charcoal fuel; and the numerous small streams and valleys ensured water power for the bellows and hammers of the forges and furnaces. In the first two centuries of the Roman occupation the Weald was the main iron-producing region in Britain.

1st-4th Century ROMANO-BRITISH – could drove roads date back this far? No evidence.

8th Century – Wic hurst as a settlement linked to Sullington parish – grazing land linked by drove roads

10th Century NNE-SSW orientated fields formalised, based around drove roads connecting the coast with the damped lands of the Weald

“early MEDIEVAL” 750 -1175

11th Century – (Old) Wickhurst Lane in use

13th Century –  Stammerham Farm – to the north of the railway

14th Century – Farthings (formerly Farthingbridge) Farm

15th Century – Parthings Farm land where Highwood Village sites

Tudor and early-Stuart times – the Weald was again the main iron-producing region in Britain

“late medieval” 1175-1550

1500s FULLING MILL – for mechanical cleaning of simple cloth with Fullers Earth

identification from presence of pond and constriction; channel sediments in sectional cut ditches

ridge and furrow remains

1724 Budgens Map of Sussex – shows the curved Five Oaks-Farthings Hill road respecting former boundary

1760s HILLS PLACE – Capability Brown landscape

1820 – landscape lost and back to farmland

1840s TITHE MAPPING – gives field names which reference earlier stages of history

1848 – railway and Horsham station initially connection from Three Bridges

1850 – Broadbridge Mill – flour production

1861 – rail connection to Shoreham

1862 – Horsham rail connections to Dorking, Leatherhead and London Victoria

1865 – rail connection to Guildford

1896 Warnham Brickworks, which before 1909 moved east of the railway; houses for brickworkers were built near the station by 1896, and by 1909 there was a row of ten. The Warnham brickworks too were much enlarged in the 20th century. In 1903 the Sussex Brick & Estates Co. was formed to take over the Warnham brickworks, and in 1907 it took over the Southwater firm as well.

1902 – Christs Hospital School – occupying much of the fromer Stammerham

1930s – memories of new Farthings farmer daughter – stock brought by train from Devon

1940s – River Arun much higher as weir/waterfall at base of High Wood to allow leat for the Broadbridge Mill

1939-45 SECOND WORLD WAR

postwar, Arun water level lower as weir in disrepair and mill not in use

1950s A24 road bisects landscape

1962 the Warnham brickworks, output was the largest in south-east England, employed c. 300 men

into 2010s development starts  – allowed the archaeological investigation of Wickhurst Green as well as the eastern side of the A24

2019 Highwood Village community occupation begins – with the historic oaks through the Village and the Fulling Mill site on the other bank signifying the oval enclosure boundary that may date back 2500 years. Our sculpture, Fluvius, nods to the occupation of the Wic hurst, and all the sculptors’ presence amidst both the historical and the birdlife of the Arun flowing tight around the base of High Wood.

Fluvius – the Highwood Village sculpture

Clifford Palmer’s suggested name was picked by Berkeley Homes from a shortlist which the sculptor thought needed to allude to the FORMS over the PROCESS. We have all experienced the richness of the latter, but it only supports what is now a standalone object for new visitors. As the sculptor, I’m more concerned now that IF people need a way in to looking at the stone, they have a way to do it without asking others. i.e. considering the name, looking up its meaning and trying to relate the meaning to the form. I suppose I have a duty in maximising the chance of local distinctiveness being recognised.

Fluvius, the latin word for streams, rivers and running water works well because we responded, through the stone, to being next to the River Arun. Gravitational flow from a stream (off High Wood) into and through the (medieval mill) wheel can be interpreted in the forms, ending in a flat plane at various parts of the base of the portland stone so as to imply a continuous river underlying the trees and figure. The running nature of the wheel can only ever be implied movement in a static sculpture – but the sculptor hopes that “flow” is experienced in the same way that rhythms are seen in the tree forms and that of the figure.

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medieval fulling mill wheel with water flow above, starting “beyond” the front of the sculpture block one third of the way up. The horizontal plane alluding to the river is seen either side, at the base of the stone

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a clearer wide-angle view of the water wheel and incoming flow. The vanes are more like those of a windmill, but are created in this form to give sculptural edges which attract shadow. The feel of the river surface is accentuated by wading heron (right), a duck in the reeds (through the arch to the left) and large pike at the other end of the sculpture’s base.

Other names put forward through 2019 are all vital to the history of the stone. They all capture some element of why it is special to you. They included:

Fluvius; Hand heart fusion; Birdman; Green Man; The dreaming giant; The Living Stone; Living Stone; Highwood Stone; Wealden heritage protector; Wealden protector; Spirit of Highwood; Highwood heritage; Wealden heritage; Life Naturelle; Natural Life; Life at Peace; Unity; Memory Stone; Arun & Oak; Dwelling; (discussed day 59), Naturecall, Forest, Harvest, Arunflow.

We also had some discussion around shapeshifters à la Harry Potter, Upspringing (Day 21), the heathen imagery symbolic of new life, Dryads (the greek guardian spirit of the tree; Day 28) and Promethean imagery adding magic spark in the age of the Shelleys (Day 16).

Flick back through earlier posts to look at some of those discussions.

A crepuscular unveiling

What a magical dusk, with refreshments on tap and low lighting bringing the Square to life as the day withdrew over High Wood’s horizon and 80 people or so celebrated. It was summed up for me by my watching one of the last people to leave the square, who had been – silently – looking at the sculpture almost as if in a trance. He said that he hadn’t contemplated something like this for a long time, and we talked about the value of things which have no purpose other than to inspire such contemplation. With that, my – our – job is done. To those who were there tonight, I’m sorry we didn’t have the same rich interaction time as during the stone’s creation. I’ll value those sessions and the conversations and threads they spawned.

My speech notes for the benefit of those who couldn’t be there:

It is 5 years since we first discussed a new, exciting way of creating public art engaging with local people, here at Highwood Village in Horsham District.

The sculpture has responded to the past and present of High Wood’s landscape on the banks of the Arun, led by my eyes – and the memories, information and experience which have been volunteered by many of you – in addition to your considerable efforts with the tools.

Berkeley Homes committed to something meaningful which goes beyond the “design” that we see in most modern public art, surrendering to a emergent process which becomes a rich thread in peoples’ lives when empowered to contribute. It has resulted in a work which is locally distinctive but links with my other stones on the South Downs;  in Lewes, at the Devil’s Punchbowl – and another work also influenced by the River Arun – at Pulborough.

There is synergy in others being able to consider the work “theirs” whilst an artist feels uncompromised in his or her “art”. It is worth explaining the process:

Marking the stone into random, smaller forms starts to suggest things to the eye; thus the first sessions gave participants freedom in following their own thoughts while being instructed to carve stone safely. Things happen by chance and others’ intention. That might be the heart inscribed on one side of the block by our very first community carver from right here at Highwood (it disappeared several days later) or the little profile of a head carved several days later which still exists on the rock now. Other marks will have indirectly led to where significant holes started to form.

As the stone progresses and a local story starts to take hold, you became skilled apprentices under direction, helping me carve deeper in the block, the vision emerging.

8 tonnes – 60 days – 360 hours – Between 1.5 and 3 million chisel ‘releases’ of stone – 1.5 tonnes removed. All by hand. 15 Highwood families – 40 carvers in wider Horsham – 400 contributing through interest and discussion including all those from Highwood Mill – thankyou all for keeping me going through the colder and rainier sessions. 

The carving has developed from early Spring to Autumn 2019 and has responded to High Wood above the young river Arun.

Development has funded archaeology which has uncovered more about the the pasture lands of the Weald. The oaks which surround us here lie on an arc which follows an oval around the base of the High Wood and dates perhaps to Iron Age times – the first ditched enclosure to the protected hill which later became field boundaries – and whose mature trees now connect the open spaces through Highwood. 

Those craggy, time-worn oaks emerge in the stone.

There are some obvious forms which have emerged; duck, heron, woodpecker, grazing cow and pike – from visual prompts and your stories told.

And some less obvious – the owl, roosting bats, the water wheel, medieval mill shack, the gnarled trees… and blackberry (which grew on the riverbank close to our carving site)

The figure’s overarching stance embraces all the other forms. The chance element of it emerging – essentially 15 feet tall – is a huge energy lift for the final work. 
I decided that it needed to “stay” at the stage of the woodpecker emerging close to where the figure’s face would be. It somehow united the faunal forms, like some friendly Green Man.

The upper area of the block is deliberately less worked as it represents a lot of the indistinct tree tops, but many see more than just the head of the human figure; bison or large animals have been mentioned. In thinking what response this elicits that might link back to High Wood, we must look to the Horsham district’s Knepp Estate where the re-wilding project is seeing a return to a more primeval Wealden landscape. Perhaps the glimpsed heads might link to things like the extinct Aurochs, an ancestor of the domestic cow as well as the European Bison, domesticated some 8000 years ago.

Our bird of prey crept in from the circling of the High Wood buzzard pair and occasional wavering red kite’s flight. I suppose it also records the first trip of one of the recently-released Solent white-tailed eagles over Horsham – following the corridor of the Weald, Knepp’ Castle’s Re-Wilding project and the South Downs – back home to the Isle of Wight.

Thanks to photographers Anne Purkiss, Cliff Palmer and David Leadbetter who have documented both the stone, setting and sculptor in their various ways. Whether it be youtube channel, national sculpture recording project or exhibition material for a broad body of work on sculptors, it highlights Horsham and Highwood on the cultural map – where genuinely interesting cultural things have happened and where a significant object now exists which is good for a thousand years or so.

Thanks also to Berkeley who have hosted and patiently supported both the process and the visitors participating. When “somewhere to sit next to the stone” was suggested by one of the locals, Emma had a bench installed before the week was out.

Lastly, to Horsham District Councillors who provide a steer for how developer contributions should benefit local people. Doing something different takes vision – artists continue in their work but with opportunities like Berkeley Homes’ community sculpture project at Highwood Village, Horsham residents – and young people particularly – have experienced something extra-ordinary – and which will endure for future generations.

To ALL the carvers, you now need to think of YOUR next block! Your work here is done!

 

(Oh – and the stone was named, but you can wait for the next posting for that one).

 

Remember Weds 23rd launch – 6pm

I understand about 18 names were put forward and a winner will be announced at the unveiling at 6pm on Wednesday 23rd, down in Landmark Square! I hope you can be there to see the culmination of all your hard work and verbal contributions.

Our working patch is now restored to grass, so the hive of activity next to the Arun remains a memory to all who have contributed and observed proceedings there.

Here is a picture from February 2019 on the day the raw stone went in:

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See you on Wednesday!

Names… and date change to 23rd October

_DSC2613cropThree well-considered names in already; keep them coming! All are important for the evolving of the sculpture and how you personally see it and its story, even though we will only be able to use one of them.

HAND HEART FUSION
The hands that joined together to make it; The hearts (thoughts and feelings involved and the heart that was sculpted at the beginning and reappeared later). And fusion… a fusion of hands and hearts of the community.

FLUVIUS
being Latin for stream or river

BIRDMAN
there are 5 birds – and a nest – around the figure which emerges from the tree canopy

Please amend your diary to Wednesday 23th October at 6pm for the unveiling of the sculpture in the Landmark Square at Highwood Village. Complimentary refreshments will be served. Don’t forget to send your name ideas to highwoodvillage@berkeleygroup.co.uk soon! The name will be announced on the night.

Day 60 – the move and an invite

_DSC2612cropToday, the 100 tonne crane arrived to move the sculpture from the banks of the Arun to the Square which will become the heart of Highwood Village. On Wednesday 23th (note revision) October at 6pm, Berkeley Homes invites you to celebrate the unveiling of the sculpture in the Landmark Square at Highwood Village. Complimentary refreshments will be served. TO HELP US PICK A NAME FOR THE SCULPTURE send your ideas to highwoodvillage@berkeleygroup.co.uk as soon as possible! The name will be announced on the night.

These cameraphone clips below (click on the title in the email to access the website) document the move today:

Day 59 – naming?

A fine last day; it could have been July. Tracks in the grass from the construction fence towards the river – a sign of Mr Fox or Badger from last night.

Visitors all day; some from the Gower, Southwater and closer by. Some lucky passers-by who chanced on our last session and gained some tuition after their cycling. Other regulars returned for the final activity (thankyou) and those sometimes awkward moments when things have to come to an end.

We downed tools promptly and hosed the sculpture before cleaning the base timbers and the concrete plinth. Both have done us proud through the vagaries of the weather over the last 6 months. Thanks to Berkeley for hosting this tremendous 6 month community programme, which has resulted in something with real energy emerging.

When a work is complete, it really needs a name to help its passage in the outside world, when it has to stand on its own without its co-sculptors around it. One of the regulars, Oscar, had a long and creative discussion about naming; bringing up Naturecall, Forest and Harvest as possibles. The difficulty of settling on a title is due to:

the need for it to be universal, rather than clever (something like Palimpsest would describe the sculptural layers in the landscape over time.. but it’s snooty and exclusive – not what is needed for a public work. Whereas Timeline could conceivably work)

the need to avoid either too much subtlety or tenuous links (things need to be clear to a viewer who may have no connection with the work, or other things referenced)

So, Dwelling, raised by Cathy, could have possibilities. Its is communal, hints at homes and communities rather than houses, and it has a gathering function for all the bird and animal connections in the work. And I like the double meaning, as dwelling also hints at the contemplation in the human figure when confronted with the pipsqueak woodpecker; making or allowing time and savouring the experience.

Much like the process of making sculpture.

Can you perhaps add your naming thoughts by commenting on the post? I also like the idea of Arunflow – building on the river (as the reason the bird and animal count has been so high) being recognised in the same way that High Wood perhaps does not need recognition because of its use in the two community names on either bank. The figure IS large but is only present because of supporting (or a focus for) the other forms in the sculpture. I’ve enjoyed the colloquial birdman but don’t feel this or other terms lead to a strong formal name… which needs to build on and strengthen what is local.

Keep talking, even though we are no longer carving.

Watch out for the moving day in late September and an opening event in mid October.

 

Day 58 – hose and beetle

Saturday will be our last day and people are emailing to book slots! A powerful hose will be on demand all day so we can clear the stone dust from any of the final working areas.

Today, after an early visitor left to drive home to Yorkshire, I washed the sculpture down and some prominent rows of tool marks become evident under the dust – where adjustments haven’t blended in to the surrounding stone.

As the hose was turned off, I noticed a small beetle crawling up the oak base onto the bottom of the stone. As I left to inspect the plinth samples in the construction site compound, it had climbed to the highest point of the sculpture, on the owl’s head.

On Saturday we will be doing more looking and considering than carving, finding where those small but necessary adjustments are needed before we lay tools to rest. We have done remarkable things at Highwood.

Final carving – 10-4 Saturday 14th September

 

Day 57: crowd

From Spring to Autumn 2019, the stone has responded to the past and present of High Wood’s riverine landscape. The overarching figure might indeed represent the Highwood communities spanning the Arun, embracing the surrounding trees, animals and birds – and the mill water flow.

The amount of material removed is decreasing. Today’s assembled masses started to search for small areas of improvement; cleaning up sculptural planes and their junctions. These are hard won, often deep in the block… and create a lot of dust. We will need the water hose in the last session to start to clean the stone down to finally test the forms.

The richness of the artistic community present today – photographers, artists, and sculptors – will be something not to be forgotten for all involved. We talked about potential sculpture names. Send in your own thoughts.

Remember you only have two work days left now to add your last marks.

Last sessions: THURS 12th, Sat 14th (10-4)

Day 56 – spelling forms

It’s meteorological autumn. I arrived in wellies in the rain, and quickly regretted things as it got warmer and warmer; it is not astronomical autumn until the 23rd.

Berkeley met this morning to look at the logistics of moving the sculpture to the Square in early October. The rest of the day concentrated on deepening the shadows; a new young carving duo arrived late in the day after a trip to the pump track.

As well as the identification of the mill shack smoke forming an ‘S’ some weeks ago, the ear of the large birdman figure was seen to resemble an ‘e’. All good stuff.

Last sessions: Sat 7th, THURS 12th, Sat 14th !

All 10-4.

Day 55 – štika

As the countdown clock starts ticking, I brought the ladder to get on with jobs in hand, thinking the day would be quiet with last beach days before the schools restart. It turned out to be busy all day, with new visitors travelling from Horsham, Petworth, the Czech Republic… and Crawley – as well as a few regulars passing by.

The pike form progressed a little with help of a cycling fisherman – a little of the curve taken out of the back; I also learnt its Czech name today.

Much apprentice work took place with a consequent shortage of mallets throughout the day. It was pleasing to hear that people who had come across the community stone project through social media were amazed at the opportunity offered to get involved.

The heron form is becoming upright; the cow now has a front leg (which does yet not quite ‘read’ as a front leg). Branches are becoming more prominent as the shadows around their edges are deepened. The tree canopies at the top of the stone are regularly being seen as buffalo and gorilla heads which suggest that the ambiguous nature of those masses is about right – liveliness is encouraging observers to wait a while and consider what personal story they see.

The educational benefit of this project is seen through the valuing of persistence, observation and being able to discuss openly what one sees or visualises in raw stone. Improvisation ultimately rewards. The process is a rich but not a fast one – but this stone has to sit around for the next thousand years, so it is worth the effort.

Next carving: Weds 4th, Sat 7th, Thurs 12th, Sat 14th all 10-4.
Remember the end is approaching rapidly… spread the word before it is too late for participation!

Day 54 – painting

Lots of visitors and a few carvers today, some who had not been since the earliest sessions. The meadow beyond is looking fabulous with thistledown starting to lift.

The shadows are gradually increasing in the lower parts – but you can see today that the light still bleaches all the lower form in the wide angle view above. Good thoughts from a painter on one of the ‘hands’ of the large figure; presently still marooned in the composition and needing to flow more. Likewise for the bottom edge of the cow’s head. To add a front hoof or keep the composition simple? Try removing material till it appears, and keep on removing material if it doesn’t work.

I’ve mentioned before that I think improvisational sculpture is very similar to painting. But we sculptors can’t replace the medium and try again…

Next carving Sat 31st, Weds 4th Sept, Sat 7th, all 10-4

Please spread the work – perhaps forward the email blog post – as the stone has very few sessions left now!

Day 53 – ladder work

A windy day for resolving some of the forms on the upper face, which can’t be seen by the passing visitor but will be evident from upper stories of some of the Highwood Village residences around the square.

One new visitor today thought the figure’s form in our stone reminded him of the British Library Eduardo Paolozzi 1995 sculpture of Isaac Newton. The bronze has a characteristic bent over figure, and was probably originally made in clay.6a00d8341c464853ef01b7c826328e970b

More new carvers today apprenticing on the heron and on the remaining block between the cow and the tree, which is shrinking rapidly and yielding the necessary shade at the base, between the two forms. This end needs to be simpler and more peaceful to contrast with the busier aspects elsewhere. Maximalist not minimalist.

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Next carving on Bank Holiday Monday August 26th (10-4), after a break for my West Dean Sculpture Summer School and then a trip to Cornwall (which is rich in volcanic geology and has some interesting (hard) carving stones as well St Ives being the long time home of sculptor Barbara Hepworth. Her curated house, garden and studio there is well worth visiting).

If you pass by Highwood to view, DO send thoughts on what some of the more ambiguous forms suggest to you, as these all help with final stages of resolving.

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washed down with remains of my water bottle, to clear stone dust and sharpen the forms up

Day 52 – unselfconscious

A short working day today but blessed with apprentices old and new. Those who know the ropes now are almost proprietorial with the stone and tools, sometimes belying their years.

Confidence in the imagery, being able to talk about seeing alligators or crows in a bit of rock – or how the owl form is a bit like a sloth – with serious intent, brings us all back to the unselfconscious times of childhood. I noticed it today in my own peer group – those who enthuse about their work or interests. I noticed it in children eager to participate and learn, and I noticed it in elders reminiscing about their past. Picasso expounded that every child is an artist. The problem was how to remain an artist once we grow up.

We talked today about cake sculpture, birds’ bill shapes, how a heron can’t look alive unless it is vertically balanced… and the principle of sharpening things with something harder than the object, demonstrated by parts of the rock/paper/scissors game.

8 days left. A day at the nearside end. A day on the heron. A day on the top, as I note that there are some apartments overlooking the new square which will change the viewing angles. And still some areas to resolve…

A few links to my earlier sculptures around Sussex. On the South Downs here. At Pulborough Brooks RSPB reserve, on the main route down into the carpark, still in a temporary location. In Lewes Grange Gardens here. Also one in the Surrey Hills at Hindhead here.

Next carving:

Sunday 11th, Bank Holiday Monday 26th (all 10-4), Sat 31st, Weds 4th Sept

We will finish during mid September, so don’t miss out on contributing to the stone before then.

Day 51 – Battenburg

2019-08-04 15.16.19Today some new carvers and established visitors, with one from New Zealand keen to be part of the stone’s progress… but had to leave as tea time beckoned.

The blackberries were enormous and starting to get sweet.

The stone now has – with the exception of some of the top – a completely carved surface, with all remains of the quarry markings now gone.

The ‘bird in nest’ in the images above was deemed a bit weak and has been carved out, leaving a nest with eggs and a good deal more space around birdman‘s chin.

The final sessions will concentrate on such simplification, removing the weakest forms, creating more shade and space to complement the stronger forms. Some areas of the stone have shrugged me off already, indicating they are either passing muster… or lower down the pecking order for what needs doing.

Next carving:

Thurs 8th (till 2.45), Sunday 11th, Bank Holiday Monday 26th (all 10-4)

We will finish during mid September, so don’t miss out on contributing to the stone before then.

 

 

Day 50 – countdown

2019-08-01 15.22.0510 working days to go now! Several new young cycling carvers today visiting from Barns Green as well as a passing European sculptor. Lots appreciative of the emergent approach for our stone.

Jaded after a trip away squeezed in between sessions, I had been thinking of the stone and our ‘birdman’, gathering the avian fauna of our river and hill. Whilst away, I’d heard of the re-introduction of the White-tailed Sea Eagle – with its 8 foot wingspan – into the Solent area. It somehow seemed connected with the energies emanating at Highwood.

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Next carving:

Sunday 4th, Thurs 8th (till 2.45), Sunday 11th, Bank Holiday Monday 26th

We will finish during mid September, so don’t miss out on contributing to the stone before then.

Day 49 – blackberry summer

Blackberries growing next to rivers and streams always seem enormous. And I had my first fill, 10 metres from our stone. A bit tart – but it’s still July. Our contrasting, talk-worthy form now has another serendipitous link into the stone’s story.

Several old friends of the stone passing by, and one new carver from ‘over the road’, with a very patient dog. More good work done after the showers of the morning passed. Some memories of early in the stone’s progress, of those who participated who are now less able to be involved.

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Next carving:

Thurs 1st August, Sunday 4th, Thurs 8th (till 3), Sunday 11th, Bank Holiday Monday 26th

We will finish during mid September, so don’t miss out on contributing to the stone before then.

Day 48 – mewing

2019-07-23 13.15.4330 degrees in the shade. Continuing to make progress into the end of the stone where much removal is required. Taking a break to ‘find’ another bird head at the very top, I added a hooked beak and within 5 minutes I had a pair of raptors mewing overhead. I’m pretty sure it was a coincidence…2019-07-23 13.14.37

I’ve started chalking bits that need attention, if I cannot be bothered to address them immediately. 12 days left now and it is not just these ‘improvements’ in form that need attention – there is major resolving of several areas still to do.

Next carving:

Sat 27th July, Thurs 1st August, Sunday 4th, Thurs 8th, Sunday 11th, Bank Holiday Monday 26th

We will finish during mid September, so don’t miss out on contributing to the stone before then.

Days 46, 47 – contemplation

It is slow progress in the hardest parts of the block, although as the air-hardened outer crust is penetrated, the material becomes easy to work – but with access difficulties reaching it. We have two more bird forms arising and I’ve been starting to think of our emergent figure as ‘Birdman’ – quite ironic after your conversations early on in the Spring about how their were a large proportion of airline pilots living in Highwood.

It has been quiet and my pace is increasing; pressure mounts. Schools are breaking up and holidays are upon us, but our sessions are ticking away and come September the sculptor will be gone.

I had a wasp for company on Saturday, rasping away at the surface of the bench for nest rebuilding material. He wasn’t a great help, to be honest – deeply engaged in his own reductive process.

Next carving:

JULY: Tues 23rd, Sat 27th

AUG: Thurs 1st, Sunday 4th, Thurs 8th, Sunday 11th, Bank Holiday Monday 26th

We will finish during mid September, so don’t miss out on contributing to the stone before then.

Day 44, 45 – so do you know what it is yet?

This is the general question raised by people who don’t actually come down to the stone. And that leads the sculptor to talk in non-sculptural language:

oh, we have a few trees and much bird-life linking to past and present, and an over-arching embracing figure which might be a metaphor for the High Wood itself, with its feet in the River Arun below…

which all tends to sound quite bland. In practice, the stone will be read differently by every viewer, depending on their sensitivity to knowing the sense of place and the process the stone has been through – with you. It is an artistic response, not an interpretation panel.

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Locking imagery into the obvious is quite limiting for the interest of the sculpture. The unseen can be given form and the unknown can be gradually discovered. That said, a Heron form is emerging (under our leaping hare/branch) as we finish 3/4 of the sessions.

Next carving:

JULY: Weds 17th, Sat 20th, Tues 23rd, Sat 27th,

AUG: Thurs 1st, Sunday 4th, Thurs 8th, Sunday 11th, Bank Holiday Monday 26th

We will finish during mid September, so don’t miss out on contributing to the stone before then. You need to make the time.

Day 42, 43 – oracle

On Thursday, a special visitor who grew up in Horsham arrived direct from Gatwick Airport to see and work on the stone. She had twice carved in Tout Quarry at Portland and so familiarised herself with the same limestone.

Brutal heat on both days, with Saturday revealing a few more visitor thoughts on the stone’s forms, one seeing an evolution of civilisation. (I hope he will comment more here) Later, a new young carver walked around, pronouncing:

woodpecker

owl

duckie!

….raspberry

which made me realise that the odd spherical form in view of the road was indeed probably influenced by my last 10 carving sessions, returning home tired and eating same to abandon from the best raspberry season for years.

The question now is whether that form should stay. Its forms balance where it is, and my gut feel is that the sculptor’s role in ‘place’ is also quite important. It also lends a memory to the start of summer when the forms have largely set.

You all imprint what you want to see on the stone. And the value of such an ambiguous form is that it can be oracle-like, revealing new things on each visit.

What thoughts?

Next carving: Weds 10th (from 1pm this day), Sunday 14th, Weds 17th, Sat 20th, Tues 23rd, Sat 27th

Day 41 – heart of the community

I arrived to find the route to the Village’s square (and the stone’s final resting place) is now open – a new community beyond the Arun waiting for its inhabitants. I was also honoured to have the first of these pioneer dwellers coming to visit me this morning.

A super-hot Saturday morning led me to keep in the stone’s shadow, working on the “water surface” at the base and considering forms which might accentuate viewer’s recognition there. These are “ways in” to seeing and making a relationship with the sculpture in your own eyes.

The progress of the stone is being well documented by photographers and video artists for posterity. Another nice piece here:

Another visit too by one of our regular younger carvers, dressed for going out but anxious to find out what had happened since his last mallet and chisel session.

The stone will be fresh cultural heritage at the heart of a new community and is one vector for making common ties with those within, those on the other side of the river, those from wider Horsham, and those tourists who will pay homage to a stone once carved next to the upper Arun in West Sussex.

Next carving: Thurs 4th, Sat 6th (10-4)

Day 40 – shadows

To see someone else’s photographs often gives a jolt one doesn’t see with one’s own.

A slightly different viewed angle; or in this case the shadows that Scooter Scout identified – cast profiles on the ground.

One of the developing branches had a pocket beneath which felt like it would suit some bat forms; the images he sent to me after this session will help in developing these – and also the wing forms of the owl form at the top of the sculpture. These smaller, supporting forms are ‘ways in’ to seeing the larger sculpture and to me, not disruptive to the overall form. Indeed, in a cool, minimalist world, this sculpture is unashamedly maximalist.

Two-thirds of the work are completed now so don’t leave your visits too far off if you want to contribute to the forms.  A mid-September finish is anticipated.

Next carving Sat 29th (MORNING ONLY), then Thurs 4th, Sat 6th (10-4)

Day 38, 39 – recuperation

I have moved down a chisel size to take pressure off my left elbow and am wearing a tight clasp on that fore-arm; these seem to be permitting a solid day’s work (the daily bucket is still being taken away with an acceptable haul) but I am in many ways grateful for the sudden prompt of how lucky I’ve been in getting this far.

It has been quiet. A second ‘break through’ has taken place low down on the stone face nearest the path.

dav

The large figure in conversation with the woodpecker seems to convey the High Wood hill itself, providing linkage to the flora and fauna of the river valley around its base. The tree canopies have a suggestion of old, sentinel heads within them – wise oaks. This picture shows the upper middle block starting to develop a face in profile:dav

New visitors are finding elephant, bison and dinosaur forms in the upper block. These have no linkage to our site but show that the stone is making people look – and what we all see is largely a function of what we want to find. A ‘birder’ quickly found the perching owl form and told me about the nesting barn owls on Old Wickhurst Lane – another serendipitous moment for me in corroborating why certain forms have come into existence.

I’m still perplexed, though, about the big raspberry-like sphere on the corner as you first approach the stone. It does not convey the tree foliage as I thought it might, but yet I warm to its ball-like qualities as a contrast to other forms. You may see a linkage.

As we approach the final third of the carving, here are two headings which can expand from this point onward. Send your thoughts – or vocalise when you see me – to add.

Name thoughts: (a bit early yet)

A developing summary for the stone:
something about embracing/interconnection; humanity; microcosm – the block symbolising the trees, birds and animals of  High Wood/River Arun with remnants of our historic occupation

Next carving Weds 26th: 10-4, Saturday 29th: 9-1 ONLY!

Day 36, 37 – lows and highs

The stone relies on 
lows and highs
for light and shade –
from which the art is made

The sculptor experiences them too, with Day 36 resulting in the coldest and wettest I have been since we started the block. As the hands get colder, the ability to sense the impact on the muscles decreases, and I did ‘damage’ despite finishing early and driving home with fan and heater full on. In mid June.

Day 37 started well with a constant flow of returning carvers, each a little more confident in their practice. Some had carved the stone at Slindon and wanted to introduce new family ‘into’ the Horsham stone. A carving snail was found. A book on Shelley brought along had a poignant note. How much he achieved in his short life.Our two-dimensional artists are recording the block. Each new interpretation, a different way of seeing, can assist my own.To end the day, a family carving who will be moving to one of the houses close by. These will hopefully be some of the guardians of the block long after the sculptor has left the High Wood landscape; part of a new community and contributors in the cultural heritage we are creating here for posterity.

Next carving Wednesday 19th, SUNDAY 23rd!

Day 34, 35 – squalls

The wind has been up and my snood back on. Squalls on both days, but Saturday brought forth our plucky returning carvers who are obviously hearing the stone calling to them after a few days break. A first too  – a musician carving with arm in a sling.  Perhaps ceremonial, but necessarily marking the day sooner rather than later. (the picture below displays our leaping hare branch very well)

The grazing cow’s head is starting to give the impression that it’s body could continue through the middle of the sculpture. Branches are extending above the mill wheel, and the mill shack has what could be a plume of smoke from its chimney.

We also have an owl-like form perching on the back of the large figure, the latter of which O described as ’embracing’ all the forms, or humanity. I thought this very apt – the larger figure is almost a metaphor for the High Wood itself.

Next carving Wednesday 12th, Saturday 15th.

 

Day 33 – light

It is getting hotter and brighter – we are now in June – and the 6 hour sessions are getting harder to finish. This is concentrated, sustaining carving food – coconut milk, fresh chilli and ginger, nuts and seeds, mashed with chia, banana and cinnamon. A bit like weird bird cake.

The longer tools were coming into play today as I sought to pierce the block on one of the corners. Sadly, no one there when it happened, but it feels a special time when it occurs, getting light from a new source. The neighbouring corner may follow suit in a week or so.Next carving Thurs 6th, Saturday 8th.

Day 32 – depth

Carving apprentices back today, before the rain. The task gets more difficult as the depth of the relief increases. Look at how a standard chisel length makes it increasingly tough on the carver’s hand:When using a longer (and heavier) tool, it becomes possible again. This will likely be the first place that we ‘pierce’ the block and see light through from the other face.

I met other visitors today in the early days of the stone’s progress – and now, they were anxiously awaiting release of the keys for their new home close by.  Welcome!
Next carving Saturday 1st June.

Day 31 – puckishness

The mayflies are joining the alderflies around the block, and the first damselflies and dragonflies are in the air. A good session for new and returning carvers, although we are all finding that the going is becoming more difficult as one has to get deeper into the block. The mallet head can ricochet off neighbouring stone, and finding access for the right chisel angle becomes onerous.

The legs of our giant tree sprite (a colloquial form of spirit, from our oak tree dryad and river naiads) have started to become more visible as the relief grows in depth. I started to realise the link to the mediaeval house spirit, (Robin Goodfellow, Puck or its diminutive Pixie) which has its place in folklore. The block now has that visual element of surprise (the sort of thing that Shakespeare was getting at through the spoken word) – a mischievious playfulness that belies what an inanimate object should be capable of.

I couldn’t quite make the end of a six hour session today, a combination of heat and not having had enough sleep.  A lesson in preparedness, but also to remind that our task is indeed a mountainous one.

The first of this season’s alderflies have abruptly shifted off their mortal coils. The circle of life rolls on and, as Tim Rice (with lions, mind you) reminds us: From the day we arrive on the planet/And blinking, step into the sun/There’s more to see than can ever be seen/More to do than can ever be done.

The stone will be an everlasting prompt to value the present.

Next carving Weds 29th, Sat 1st June. 

Day 30 – solar and sky

An auspicious day – half way through the sculpture’s emergence! The sky trails today above the growing Village were wondrous: The morning’s warming block showed a new resident, here: By the late afternoon, our ground crab spider had traversed the entire block and was positioned again at right angles to the sun’s rays.

New visitors today, keen to return when they have more time. We talked about the emerging bovine head, fish, hare and sphere, the latter of which is a strong form but which isn’t yet feeling like it represents the clumpy spheres of tree leaves. Here below the wheel of the fulling mill: Thanks Kim and Scooter Scout for images – and bug identification.

Carving again Sat 25th!

Days 28, 29 – young eyes

Day 28: One of the comments from last session’s river nymphs alerted to Percy Shelley’s 1918 poem The Woodman and the Nightingale here – in which he incorporates the Greek dryad or spirit of the tree. The woodman hates the song of the nightingale, but the bird unites all the other creatures of the forest; every soul except the woodman’s is moved by the nightingale. The woodman spends his days chopping down trees, each of which contains the soul of a wood nymph which provides beauty and shelter to the world. The world is full, says Shelley, of people like the Woodman who expel Love’s gentle Dryads from the haunts of life, And vex the nightingales in every dell.

The creatures of the High Wood are all stimulated and brought together by the bird’s song. The woodman’s stance threatens this entire community – Shelley is warning men not to steel themselves against the beauty of nature. The Romantic poets thought of themselves as metaphorical nightingales uniting people through their words; sculptors do the same thing, waiting for others to see forms and – at Horsham – join in with creating them.

The discovery of the poem is serendipitous as it give some broad support to our emerging, hidden larger figure – a soul of the trees. The woodman is perhaps a symbol of civilisation; the demand for growth leading to habitat destruction. But we have a counter story here – the planning system protects, and Berkeley Homes as a ‘placemaker’ is both careful with the stretches of countryside (like our upper Arun Valley corridor) and actively wishes to restore or integrate new green spaces. Our heritage oaks form what helps makes Highwood Village special – and why perhaps people might choose it over living somewhere else.

Day 29 saw new young carvers, the first spotting things in the stone that the sculptor had not seen. This is exactly the role that transforms a sculpture, either bolstering what is there or perhaps influencing taking on board something new or better. He ‘gets’ the water stream coming in over the mill wheel but saw the abrupt, abstract end as a ‘pipe’ (see the far right of the form just above the wheel). That sums up how I want it to convey – the sculpture sits in reality but borrows dreams beyond the edges of block.

our green ‘soul of trees’ figure here just appears as a picture frame to this profile of the stone

Our second new carver might be our youngest yet, but proof that hand/eye co-ordination can be practised even at two. Our block can be his dinosaur stone; or at least muddy, shelly fossils left below where the Jurassic plesiosaurs and ammonites were a-swimming.

Some things to look out for on your next visit:

a cow’s head low in block – a memory of the grazing fields either side of the Arun

a lost monkey on the bridge, with the sculpture in the far ground

a second tree developing, with burgeoning foliage

Next carving Weds 22nd, Sat 25th.

Day 26, 27 – contrasts

Day 26 was cold and wet and I stayed in the lee of the stone for shelter, concentrating on the plane of horizontal water to underly the entire sculpture. To me this is the Arun, where all waters drain to. A low day in more ways than one.

Day 27 was sunny and the warmth back in the air brought visitors! Our first carver of the day mastered mallet and chisel as an apprentice engineer in Harland and Wolff shipyard, carving into cast iron; skills learnt before moving on to play football for Leicester City.  And now a sculptor!

Some of the ‘core’, returning carvers discussed our emergent green tree guardian and raised the ‘dryad‘ form which they eagerly went off to research further after suggesting there was a link to the oak – the heritage tree at and around High Wood. Some nice sketches of the stone too from a notebook brought for the task.Another returning duo not only continued with the chisel skills but learnt to sharpen chisels on the diamond pad – and helped to clear up the Portland chips before leaving.

And a visit from two who were in our group on day 1, so all in all an uplifting day.

Lots of birds around – Heron, a hawk or two (spotted by Scooter Scout passing by) and Mallard overhead as well as the gulls; Pied Wagtail and pigeon. Lots more of our emergent alderflies, which co-incidentally have hatched from naiads or aquatic nymphs – another of the Greek guardian spirits.

Lots to think about from today. Back Weds 15th, Saturday 18th

Day 24, 25 – community

Day 24 was quiet and I beavered away at the bottom of the block. Removal vans were around in the afternoon as the first Highwood Village resident moved in – the community  on the south side of the river is starting to emerge.

On Day 25, people viewing houses then came down to carve and I pointed out the lines in the stone that had directly come from the roof detail; now morphing into what could be a fulling mill. Seeing the picture below, movement over the waterwheel appears to be starting to ‘work’ visually.

May is with us and the scent of the may blossom, hawthorn, sits heavy in the air amidst the alderflies.

Just as I was leaving, three generations from the former Farthings Farm lands (to the north of the river) came down to see progress. It was wonderful to hear of the river Arun in the 50s; a waterfall under the High Wood (now just the other side of the A24) existed, with the water level on our fields kept higher to supply a leat channel to Broadbridge Mill. About this time, the weir structure was lost and the levels retreated to those we see today. In that post-war period, the disused mill would have had no need for the leat’s water supply – that might have demanded the structure be rebuilt.

Cows were an important part of the pastoral landscape back then. That is something for me to watch out for as we start to penetrate deeper into the stone.

Next carving: Weds 8th, Sunday 12th, Weds 15th

Day 23 – marathon

More herons flying above the course of the river today. While the London runners contemplated their personal 26.2 miles, the stone has now endured 140 hours of steady reduction.

Two photographers were passing by, giving some welcome respite to the rigours of getting deeper into the block. Scooter Scout (his image above) was interested in the quality of shadows and it was noticeable how these changed with the sun coming and going.  As birds seem to be creeping into the block, we talked about the form of herons today and how they weren’t desperately suited to sculpture because of their fine-ness, whereas the less gangly Barn Owl translates far better into a simplified form.

Contrast this image by Anne Purkiss with the similar record from Day 11 on the blog.

Next carving Tues 30th, Sunday 5th May, Weds 8th and Sunday 12th

Day 22 – simplification

Interesting surface decoration often demands removal for the greater good of the sculpture. Sacrificing material may allow us to penetrate deeper into the block and find more significant form.

davSome of the final larger masses are being directly influenced by some of your marks, as per the relief arc below:

Come and see progress Sunday 28th! A bench is now on site.

Day 21 – upspringing

Ostara (Germanic), Ēostre (Old English) and Eástre (Anglo Saxon) (Old English) all seem to have been a heathen higher being – the divinity of the radiant dawn, of upspringing light, whose meaning was adapted to the resurrection-day for Christians, given the symbolism of new life. The coming of Spring sees the return to life of plants and trees that have been dormant for winter, as well as animal-world emergents. For the sculptor, to divest of winter garments and revel in the sunshine was bliss, whilst the alderflies continued their courtship on our warm stone and the clue-hunters set their minds on chocolate eggs.

 

Thanks to Berkeley Homes, sculpture visitors now have a fine bench from which to survey the proceedings. The stone seems to have sprung another tree form and the Green man type figure continues to seem possible.

Dedicated young apprentice carvers again today. One 4-year old showed remarkable concentration, quietly exploring mallet and chisel for a long period whilst adults chatted with watchful eyes. Generally, teaching entails ensuring safety and then retreating to a slight distance to enable pupils to explore in their own time within their own space.

Do send your own photos (jon@jonedgar.co.uk) if you would like them added to the relevant day you carved, for posterity.

Next carving Weds 24th, SUNDAY(note change) 28th

 

Day 20 – contrasts

The bright sunshine gave lots of light and shade on the relief forms today. It was noticeable when the cloud came over how the block became visually less strong.

DSC05927 (2)

Alderflies were emerging and settling on the warm stone today. They emerge from their larval stage in the river mud in early summer, and only live a few days while they search for a mate. Our stone will last a lot longer, but it’s a salutary lesson for living in the present and making the most life while we can.

I made a quick trip over into the Village Square to see the future site of the stone, close to some of the other mature oaks across the site. Then to the bronze horses in Highwood, to observe the plinth. We need something visually simple and of about the same height as the wooden beams the worked block is sitting on; it also needs to allow the block to be seen in the round from all four approaches with no defined front or back to the sculpture.

Another range of contrasts; representational versus abstract figurative; additive sculpture (worked in clay before the bronze copy was made) versus reductive, like me and the woodpecker.

dav

Thanks to ScooterScout for his images today, who dropped by on route for an ascent of Highwood Hill.

SONY DSC2019-04-17-21h00m48s152

Next carving Sat 20, Weds 24, Sun 28th.

Day 19 – cold

davA Sunday, yet nobody was out until clearing-up time. The wind was cutting and the few walkers out stopped at the interpretation panel and turned away.

Working on the stepladder, I’ve been trying to see whether the few visual suggestions of a large figure in the block will work in practice. The bird in the branch happens to be close to where the figure would look toward, and there is a potentially interesting dialogue between a green guardian, perhaps a metaphor for the High Wood itself, providing the water to the mill and a protective hand for the living things around us.

The stone tends to force things forward for consideration, but you and I are there to steer, so let me know what you think of the forms so far, when you are next passing.

Nearly half a tonne of material has now been removed from the block and we approach being a third of the way through the block.

Back Wednesday, then Saturday for the Easter Egg Hunt!

 

Day 18: Dinosaur work

We had a small dinosaur eating stone chips today (I had tried to get said dinosaur to help putting the chips into the ‘food’ bucket…)

It struck me that the Portland stone we are working with is about the same age. Sure enough Ankylosaurus, Stegosaurus and bird-hipped dinosaurs were all around in this part of the Jurassic era.

I’ve left the broken scutch comb tool-end on the block – someone must have picked it up to inspect it as it was left in a slightly different place. So I can see at least one of you is popping in to inspect proceedings.

 

As the sunshine comes, the forms become more easy to read. Come down and see what you think the forms are starting to reveal.

Next carving: Sunday, Weds, Saturday

Day 17 – reductive processes

davThe most recent session was disturbed by recurring noise near an ancient, neighbouring oak tree. I went to investigate and realised it was a dedicated bird involved in his own reductive process, parallel to mine. As a result, today’s carving has now fixed the presence of the tree form in our block.

First changeover of a scutch comb chisel end today – not bad going after 16 sessions – 8 days per end. The red chisel now feels distinctly more powerful again; its efficiency returned.

Several groups of carvers today; the returners moving on to considering what happens in the block when some vision or other is identified. Is it relevant? Does it just sit there? How does one extend the form into the rest of the sculpture? Or indeed, how does one forget one is looking at an alpaca head half way up the stone-face in order to get back on message?

The things we imprint on the stone are from our own worlds and experiences, which is why the sculptor has to be careful not to close off ambiguity in which other people may discover their own stories – but at the same time having an underlying range of forms which are obvious enough to give a route in for a High Wood narrative to emerge as peoples’ looking turns, in time, to seeing.

Next carving: Weds 10, Sun 14, Weds 17, Sat 20 April

Day 16 – The Shelleys and the vital spark

We discussed the poet at day 11 here. At 19 Shelley eloped and then married a tavern-keeper’s daughter with whom he had a baby girl. Increasingly craving more intellectual stimulation, he studied Italian, was mentored by the philosopher and author William Godwin and fell in love with Godwin’s daughter Mary. They ran away to Italy, leaving Shelley’s wife Harriet expecting their second child. Returning to England penniless (and having angered Mary’s father) Shelley and Mary lost their own first child and then married shortly after his wife Harriet took her own life. He lost custody of his two children with Harriet through his atheism.

Yet, Percy and Mary’s creative outputs increased and they spent a summer in Switzerland with Lord Byron in Switzerland where Mary, (now with second child, William), conceived ‘The Modern Prometheus’ – the subtitle to her 1818 novel Frankenstein.

In Greek myth, Prometheus created men out of water and earth and was known for his championing mankind and the human arts and sciences generally. He defied the gods by stealing fire and giving it to humanity, which enabled progress and civilization – but annoyed Zeus. This scenario became a play by the Greek Aeschylus, which was later widely circulated in the 18th century through illustrated translations. Prometheus represented human striving (particularly the quest for scientific knowledge) and the risk of overreaching, or unintended consequences.

Shelley used the imagery in one of his prefaces ‘to awaken the nation against slavery and degradation to a true sense of moral dignity and freedom’. Promethean iconography was trending; a cultural lens for observing the dynamics of sovereignty, slavery and liberation.

The Shelleys left Marlow in 1818 for Italy (now with a third child, Clara, named after their first). He was working on Prometheus Unbound‘, a new play. After the sad death of Clara, it was finished in 1819. He disliked how the original drama dealt with Prometheus’ release from captivity. He abandoned the reconciling of Prometheus and Zeus for the captor losing support and falling from power, allowing the captive’s release. “I was averse from a catastrophe so feeble as that of reconciling the Champion with the Oppressor of mankind. The moral interest of the fable, so powerfully sustained by the sufferings and endurance of Prometheus, would be annihilated if we could conceive of him as unsaying his high language and quailing before his successful and perfidious adversary”.

The Shelleys’ second child died too. After the loss of William, when Mary was twenty-one, she gave birth to their third and only surviving child. In 1822, her husband drowned when his sailing boat sank during a storm near Viareggio. He was not yet 30.

So what can we take from all this, carving in the cold in Horsham?

Percy and Mary Shelley both employed Promethean imagery, and they also both turned cold words into living poetry and prose; they added the magic spark. In a cruel twist, the short life of Percy Shelley came to be regarded in the Romantic era as Promethean – embodying the lone genius whose efforts to improve human existence could also result in tragedy.  

In short, you don’t get owt for nowt. We hope that our local poet’s magic spark can rub off with our cold stone through the striving which will have taken place for its creation. “Our” metaphorical Zeus can perhaps be seen as the elements we carve beneath, the resistance of the tenacious quarry block against little tools – and the psychological effect of the enormity of the task.

YOU, through your support and involvement are all valued parts in sustaining that endurance and adding the essential magic spark. But it’s not over yet, so the more you can spread the word, the more energy we can harness in our immense and tough quest.

Next carving Sunday 7th.

Day 15 – Parthings and Farthings

It was freezing cold today, but sculptor Claire Morris passed by to check out the block. Her wood and stone carving sessions with Horsham Adult & Community Learning have run for many years and such tuition locally is a perfect next step for those who come and participate at Highwood Village. An introductory ‘taster session’ on Saturday May 18th 10-4 is a great opportunity to learn to carve a small relief panel in a softer stone than Portland. Enquiries via aspiresussex.org.uk

A few visitors in the middle of the day commented on the richness of being able to see the artistic process in action over a period. That makes it all worthwhile. Some younger carvers arrived later in the afternoon for more instruction. Another thing which makes this worthwhile, being able to introduce such skills to those for which it could conceivably influence lives.

We also also had some of our elders arrive on this Mothers’ Day. Our oldest carver so far (94) had brought his older brother with him…

It was enriching to overhear members of two disparate groups remember each other from years ago when they were youngsters in the area. While in conversation with one of the former farming families here, we realised the similarities in the two neighbouring holdings, either side of the river. Parthings (Highwood Village) and Farthings (Highwood). I wonder what the etymological origins of both are? Please do leave a comment if you know.

The mill wheel forms are gradually strengthening. Another thought was that the small channel for our fulling mill can only have come from above – High Wood’s catchment.

A very hard day as working the stone at shoulder height puts extra stress on the body. We are one quarter of the way through and the work now gets deeper – and harder. Back Tuesday 2nd, then Sunday 7th…