Day 14 – and a visit to High Wood

Hot sunshine saw several new visitors; one remembered using a mallet and chisel in the dockyards, another gloried in what he could see in the ambiguities of the stone’s surface, telling me that it was something which has come with age. It was powerful stuff for me, as “my” forms link to a story which I decide “works”, however we should not prevent large sculptures like this from allowing their forms to imprint on new viewers in ways quite unforeseen. It is sufficient that a block of stone can arrest the movement of the passer-by and contain their energies in viewing for a while, perhaps returning again. But from our conversations – that band of folk who chat regularly and are helping me resolve some of the considerable problems ahead in resolving the block – there is a common underlying vision developing now that does have a foot in the natural heritage of the landscape. Just as the river valley provides that lifeblood pulsing through the new area of residences, a green lung, a corridor for countryside air, animals and plants – hopefully the sculpture will provide a cultural uplift in its final central location in Highwood Village, channelling or referencing some of those things.

We also had our youngest participant, who (at 6 months) loves Simba in the Lion King. His mum identified the Simba head high up in the corner of the block.  And I met Ted, a cute and otherworldly dog who calmly surveyed proceedings while humans were deep in talk.

I’d been encouraged to go and see the view from the top of High Wood and on finishing the session, I parked in Wickhurst Lane to follow the footpath to the summit. In time, you will be able to cross the Hill and back down into Highwood Village beyond the A24 underpass, when construction is complete.

Wickhurst Lane from the junction with the footpath to High Wood, looking back to the main road between A24 Highwood junction and the garden centre

the public footpath to the summit of High Wood

you can just see the landscape of Horsham beyond the trees on the ridge

 

the view of the new Highwood Village construction, with the sculpture just behind the trees along the Arun in the centre. The BMX pumptrack is this side of the river

And a short film of the emergent forms so far:

Next on site: Mothers’ Day – Sunday 31st, Tuesday 2nd, Sunday 7th April

 

Day 13 – sun and memory

The move to Sunday saw many more coming to visit and participate; I will try to keep this as core weekend day from now on, where possible. The new Berkeley “carving cards” have been printed so pick one up from the Sales Suite!

I met Janet Fraser, co-ordinator of the Hills Farm Conservation Group, walking the riverbank. We chatted about the herons, buzzards and red kites and some of the forms entering the block which are linked to the river environment. Click on the link above if you would like to explore what they do, safeguarding and improving this nature-filled watery lifeline running through our area.

I also met someone who I had not seen since primary school. Old memories become dredged; mentions of names and places that jump back into the mind and are immediately visually strong. Meetings like this are rich indeed for creativity, double-digging the soil of experience.

A conversation with a cyclist brought memories of his children visiting the tadpole pond which would have formally have been the water source for “our” fulling mill wheel. I hope he’ll be back with more memories for us.

It was also good to hear some of the new shallow water ponds linked to the development had been teeming with frogs recently.

The day report records conversations and gatherings, whether you wish to carve or not. You can look back at when you first got involved. Five year old twins started to learn to handle the tools today; several community elders discussed a seating bench being a good idea so people could rest before the walk back up the slope.

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Discussion later in the day revolved around seeing – not everyone is naturally observant but when you can discover shapes and forms in the block, that also helps the sculptor who may benefit from what YOU are seeing in the stone; it may give me a new line of suggestion. Witness this section (left) and the immediate prompt from one of the assembled carvers: “Bart Simpson”! OK, so that doesn’t immediately help us with the vision, but it shows great potential for the future as eyes move from surface colour into the lumps and bumps of sculptural form. Keep looking at that block! Keep returning, team!

Developing sculptural forms to look out for: Tree; water plane at bottom of sculpture; mill wheel and water stream;

other passing interest: line of “profile heads” in top of block; Bart Simpson; the heart in the forked branches of the tree

Next days on site: Thurs 28th, Sunday 31st.

 

 

Day 12 – a first breakage

Another cold blowy day with few of you out. Carving the tough shelly inclusions in the Portland broke a hard tungsten carbide-tipped chisel today, but it will soldier on a little longer with aid of a diamond file.

Lisa from Horsham District’s Culture 2019 team came out to see progress and spread the word via a live feed selfie-stick interview. You can see it here on Facebook.

The vertical disc at the far end of the stone has increased in size and I’ve started to angle this into the stone and add some form linking to a fulling mill wheel. An upper layer of water is also starting to be conveyed. A corner now needs to be cleared so it can seen from two sides of the stone.

I’ve had no answers back about more Red Kites locally. Do any of you see them? – like a buzzard but thinner and with a forked tail.

Next dates on site: Sunday 24th, Thurs 28th and Sunday 31st – a mallet for Mother’s Day!

 

Day 11 – Shelley, ‘Capability’ Brown and the dangers of the cerebral

We carve a mile or two from Field Place where the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley grew up. In his childhood he probably walked the course of the Arun right past our stone, with his Horsham-dwelling cousin Thomas Medwin. Today, a red kite flew over the river valley in the harsh winds. Are they common in the area?

A conceptual sculpture might play on the possibility of spirits of the historic creatives, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown and Shelley somehow meeting Continue reading

Day 10 – cloudburst!

photographer Cliff Palmer braving the elements

The forecast was bad but the programmed session always goes ahead! There were also several important visitors in the diary. I had wanted to extend a hand to  The Horsham Society which promotes good planning and design and encourages people interested in the wellbeing of the town to get involved in the society. The balance of architecture old and new and the relationships of forms and surfaces in the civic environment channels considers using the same visual and haptic processes of the sculptor within the block – but the former is immensely more complex due to the area, the multitude of materials and the multiple agents of change. Sculptures, as microcosms with single material and artist – and on a human scale – have the potential to extend experience. They contribute to the richness of the civic environment, providing a legacy to the community they have emerged with and within – as well as bringing new people into the town through art tourism.

Horsham District Council Culture team were also popping by to see progress.

The afternoon deluge saw our concrete plinth momentarily forming a 2cm deep sea. The horizontal plane of the sitting water is useful for thinking how the river form can appear in sculpture. One needs to capture the same flatness for meandering lowland rivers, despite the Arun being one of the fastest British rivers in its tidal reaches below Pulborough. Thus, the lowest part of the block is starting to form a shelf at one end which will attempt to bring the essence of the Arun into the block.

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momentarily standing water on the ground – and the start of a similar sculptural plane low down in the block

I am tentatively exploring enlarging the round ‘disc’ for suggesting action of a fulling mill wheel, which needs to imply flow through water transferring from a higher to lower lever. It was liberating hydro-mechanical energy in the 17th century and will yield visual energy in the sculpture if it successfully manages to convey movement in an inanimate form. Despite these being at either ends of the sculpture, the lower planes of water have the potential to link as one.

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Despite preparedness (full weather gear), it was the most grim session so far and I left site damp to the core, but with the largest trug of removed material so far. The physically less productive ‘pondering’ process is vitally important to the development of the sculpture – but didn’t happen much today (except in questioning my sanity).

Next sessions: Saturday 16th, Weds 20th, Sunday 24th. 

 

Day 9 – the historic Highwood Mill

Despite there being no post-1750 map evidence of buildings closer than Broadbridge Mill downstream of High Wood, Horsham’s tithe map of 1844 give evidence of ‘Fulling Mill Field’, and with archaeological investigations published in Wealdbaera : Excavations at Wickhurst Green. Broadbridge Heath and the landscape of the West Central Weald (2018, Andrew Margetts ISBN 978-1-912331-05-5) we can see that the tree’d area on the south west corner of Highwood Mill (and just to the west of the three new houses looking south over the Arun) once formed the site of a fulling mill perhaps from the 1600s or 1700s, which would have used a water powered wheel from a dammed pond in the narrow valley, to enable woven cloth to be beaten with fuller’s earth to clean it before dyeing.

P1200219So the vertical disc we found in the stone on day 2 (only pecked out as there was an arc visible at the very base of the block) starts to have some visual relevance – it is a possible historic narrative.

At the other end of the block, the basis of a horizontal plane is beginning – an attempt to convey the riverine form which may allow another ‘figure’ to emerge on the cut edge. See if you can see what it might be.

Our ‘oak’ form progresses. The only truly viable narrative so far, so those area around it can deepen in confidence that it may play some part of the final sculpture.

Cold wind today and Saturdays seem to be less busy that Sundays, but some returner carvers today, a visiting woodcarver, a pair of cameramen filming some action, and two students intelligently debating some of the possible choices of forms. Amongst many other dog walkers and visitors not ready to get dusty quite yet. We have HDC Culture 2019 coming out to do a piece on TUESDAY 12th at 1.30pm if anyone is around and would like to carve. (I’ll be there all day, and next – Sat 16th).

Day 7 – meaning

A brutal wind but the sunshine started to lend light and shade to the first delves beyond the block’s surface. Many had started to link the Arun to the markings on the south side of the block which I saw as tree-like as they are vertical, as viewed on a diagram or plan. But I’d woken this morning with a thought of how to convey the river in more sculptural form, as a horizontal plane – which feels more real and meaningful.

Today, discussion ranged included the changing environment, meditative, percussion-like carving rhythms,  the protection of bat corridors, groups of deer, the concentration of pilots and airline workers locally,  the river, controlled explosions on Highwood Hill in the 1950s… and the pooker stick used by the beggar pookers in olde Horsham to discourage vagrants. Keep alerting me to your stories of old, especially if you remember the former fields here from childhood.

How one hones in on meaning may define whether this sculpture will manage to transcend the merely interpretative; whether it can enlarge experience. The enduring themes so far seem to be natural; the protected mature oaks nestling between and contrasting with new architecture, the river, the silent night  visitors such owl, deer and bat.. and the subtle mound of High Wood looking down over its surrounding fields that are experiencing huge change but are introducing new -human – communities to the area, keen to be here precisely because it has a connection with the rurality of Horsham District.

Serendipitous event for today? The heart which appeared on day 1 is starting to disappear, but one of our returning carvers immediately identified similar in the cleft between two tree branches appearing.  I’m slightly in awe looking at the photo here, as the block is still largely surface, but this corner starts to have sculptural power.

One of the construction workers remarked on how tidy the stone always looked when we aren’t working. Clearing up chips provides respite to the arm muscles and is good housekeeping as when it rains, dust turns to buttery mud. The bucket is presently being taken off site and being put to good use on our woodland path…

Next on site Wed 6th, Sat 9th! Please leave your own thoughts to continue the debate. And if you can spread the word via social media, PLEASE link the sculptor on instagram (@thejonedgar) and twitter (@massform) or via the Facebook PAGE for Jon Edgar (@thejonedgar). You can also make contact through the site and email your own photos  when I reply.

Day 6 – Rain

How the rain reduces visitors! A few hardy dog walkers but other than a few taking breaks from the sales suite and construction site, I saw few people. The wind was up and gusts occasionally unsteadied my work ladder. Instead of discussion breaks, I found myself sweeping and moving piles of stone chips regularly into the bucket to ease the elbow muscles.

The air was filled with rhythmic pile-driving near the new river bridge. I tried to mirror my mallet timing but it proved too different to continue. The skyline was full of interesting shapes. Continue reading

Day 5 – imagery

A good conversation first thing about the influences that may work their way into the stone. One local had kindly brought these unicorn images which they saw could link to one of the visible forms in the block, linking to the enchanted tree forms on the other side. But whilst the imagery is fresh and strong, the association to the area would be weak (unless there were to be historic links to the myth for some reason or other).  If historic imagery isn’t strong or forthcoming, another resident suggested later that one angle could be an ‘homage to the builders’ for their ten year commitment at Highwood. That is history in the making, and is potentially an interesting theme as I get a good deal of visual stimulus from the growing rooflines and occasional large machines around me. But I must keep the options open and listen to what else emerges. Continue reading

Day 4 – visitors

One single roe deer print on this Thurs morning, a sign of the night community traversing the river valley. Lots of dog walkers and local promenading residents discussing the forms, then a diverse trio broadly celebrating our Horsham District Year of Culture.
Keith Foskett, a Horsham District-dwelling writer/adventurer (the 2000 mile+ Pacific Crest and Appalachian Trails under his belt, amongst others he has documented) picked up a chisel and discussed a possible walk along The Arun – source to sea – with me.
Cliff Palmer is documenting sculpture in the district for the Art UK Sculpture Project and also carves wood, so came to participate.
Writer/historian Maggie Weir-Wilson did a PhD on the St Leonard’s Forest and maps from her thesis online gave me historical information the stones position, riverside at Highwood Village. She has a new book ‘Secret Horsham’ out later in the year, published by Amberley Books.

 


We are still scratching the surface of the stone but some divisions are now starting to emerge. I’m still anxious to hear of your historical stories, as the stone needs a strong narrative to push its forms deeper. Next carving days on site: TODAY (Sun 24), Thurs 28, Sat 2 March. 

 

Day 3 – endurance

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Sunday brought many walkers from outside Highwood, now hopefully spreading the word about the stone as its process gets underway.

With six hour work sessions, there are probably  between 1.5 and 3 million ‘releases’ of stone through our 60 sessions on site through 2019. The sessions are becoming more physically demanding as the mallet work increases – I’m welcoming the talking breaks for some respite from the relentlessness.

I’m seeking historical information from those who have lived in Horsham for considerable periods and today we talked about the cataloguers of Sussex folk songs; the Needles Farmhouse constructed from oak salvaged from Isle of Wight shipwrecks. Hopefully, we may uncover stories from even closer to Highwood past.

Energy levels directly impact ones confidence and creativity, with 4.30pm being marked by any sun departing, the cold working into the bones and one’s persistence waning to the point of not being able to continue.

Recharging, join us afresh – next on site in half-term –Weds 20th.

Day 1 – Reveal

Berkeley’s celebratory day for the first reveal of our stone and the unveiling of Horsham’s bmx track. You came over in droves, donned goggles and experienced the balance of mallet and chisel, matching their weight and size for your strength.  It was a special moment to see people who had helped carve the stones at Hindhead, Pulborough and at Slindon as well as to meet the wider Horsham community and those from Highwood itself.

The block arrived covered with the detritus of the quarry floor and half-cracked fragments from where it had been levered from the rock-face. You cleared these and felt the resistance of the Portland by scratching with the tool end. All good experience for when the task grows more purposeful.

The visible results today? Many cleaned planes and chiseled, jutting edges which threw fine shadow in the low 4pm sun after you had left. The low relief guinea-pig, windmill, nose and a heart; a chalked outline of a lady’s head seen high up in the block, as well as some stocky heads we discussed appearing on the corners if you squint. All will be ephemeral but important for establishing your rhythm with the tools – and your personal relationship with an object that has the potential for being around for a thousand years or more. We have merely scratched the surface, but we have begun!

Next days on site: Thurs 14th, Sunday 17th February. If you wish to carve, please sign in at the sales office 40m away to satisfy health and safety requirements – and you will never have to do it again, however many times you return through the year.

Click on image for slideshow:

 

into place

davThe block is now in place next to the Arun close to the southern end of the Boulevard. Deft handling with the Brown machine.  A skilled team of operators from Berkeley’s Highwood workforce – one in the cab and three on the ground – in complete contact with each other by eye and the most subtle of signals.

It is a bittersweet moment. Chosen lying prone, when viewing perhaps 300 blocks over two or three hours at Portland. Upright, a noble stone – and yet the work has still to begin.davdav

OPENING DAY Sunday 10th Feb

The stone will be in place (see the red arrow) ready for the formal opening of the BMX track at Highwood between 11am and 2pm on Sunday 10th February.

Come and find the 6.5 tonne stone and sample the tools of a sculptor.

Future dates on site to visit and try the carving tools:

Sunday 10th February

Thursday 14th February

location map

Flow

For any project which involves the general public, the factor above all else is safety. Planning a public sculpture created on site with a builder of homes demonstrates the rigorous consideration of safety at every stage of the complex construction process and beyond. From behind the safety fence, watching people at work on construction sites shows their different spheres of expertise. Competence is a beautiful thing; seeing tasks handled deftly, with panache. Continue reading

Intentionality

The stone block is awaited at Horsham, and an opening Sunday contemplated in early February. Thoughts turn to preparation, and with bluebells forcing their way up through the ground as the days lengthen, I turned to sculptures in progress at home. My arms are out of condition for a large work and I need to build up the repetition of mallet and chisel action gradually before Highwood commences. A tiny off-cut of marble and a 50kg teak lump (dragged up Rustington beach after a storm) demand different tools and sensibility.

Walking through my local landscape, one realises how natural distinctiveness and beauty comes through work itself; forestry operations and agriculture sustain our British countryside through having to produce crops; the land in maintained in ways to support harvest. As soon as intentionality creeps in through created ‘design’, suddenly the landscape suffers through things being artificial, cleaned up; anodyne. Landscape character suffers through gardens being extended into neighbouring farmland and woodland through inappropriate planting and tidying; ironically when there is a visual plan in mind to ‘improve’ or achieve something great.

Warmth and sensitivity in art can suffer in a similar way, if one does not resign to the process of just letting something happen; of resisting the contrived.

davPeople are starting to ask about the Highwood stone and what IS it going to BE? I can only reply to say that the process of something coming out of the block without prior intention is something that the artist and commissioner must believe in. The very first chisel marks on our opening day might conceivably involve 150 people. In ensuing conversation, snippets will stick in the mind; stories and discussions will build over time and my knowledge of the Highwood Village landscape in past and present times will grow. These things seep into the sculpture as the stone becomes part of both local landscape and local understanding. But I can’t tell you quite how.

A stone

We now have a block which will arrive at Highwood Village after Christmas.  You can see where it comes from – and the thought behind its choice, here, on the sculptor’s broader journal site.

Visiting just before Christmas, the show home is now open to the south of the river bridge separating the new community from the maturing Highwood on the northern side.

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The model shows where the sculpture will finally sit in the central green space.

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On the ground, new homes are rising fast.

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Preparing for the stone

Two months until the start of the #HDYOC19 – Horsham Year of Culture! Highwood Village is rising fast and its identity is forming.  Today Berkeley Homes and I have been out on site looking at sites for the Portland stone block to sit through its period of making.

We shall investigate using land in sight of the River Arun bridge close to the road into Highwood Village from Highwood. For me and all the future contributors to the working of the stone, this will be an evocative location sitting amidst the two neighbouring developments.

We shall commence looking for a block forthwith ready for a start in the new Horsham year!

 

A visit to Highwood Village to talk sculpture

A bright day for a visit to the southern development at Highwood to look at our vision for the community-involved sculpture which will soon start to become reality. The site gate to the bridge over West Sussex’s River Arun – and a new phase of housing beyond – marks entry into hard hat areas where roads are just forming and the layout of a new community emerging.

Meeting Berkeley Homes’ Construction Manager Lee White and Planning Manager Olivia Forsyth at the (sculptural) construction centre HQ, we looked at the location

where the final sculpture will sit  – green space which will form an oasis amidst the new architecture and protecting some of the oak trees of the former farmland. But this will be surrounded by construction traffic – and not accessible to the public – for many months.

The show home for Highwood Village will open at the end of year and the sculpture will commence as Horsham welcomes 2019 and its own Year of Culture.

We plan to deliver a stone to the edge of the publicly accessible areas at that time, allowing visitors looking at new houses to pick up a chisel and experience safe carving techniques – and contribute to the sculpture which may eventually be near their future home. Local residents and community groups will be able to visit and get involved when the sculptor is in residence – and you will be able to track progress through this sculptor’s journal.

Horsham Public Sculpture: Bainbridge Copnall’s The Astronomer

Collyer’s School has an interesting work by Edward Bainbridge Copnall (1903-1973), whose other works include Thomas Becket in the garden of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London; his Crucifixion on Broadbridge Heath church was moved to Horsham Museum in 2008. A former President of the Royal British Society of Sculptors, his son John Bainbridge Copnall (1928–2007) was a painter and lived locally.
Copnall

Biography of Edward Bainbridge Copnall here; John Copnall here. A longer biography of the sculptor in the National Archives here.

A new access to the A24

Highwood craneA dawn trip up the A24 sees the crane of the Berkeley Homes Highwood development, and the rooflines of some of the homes already occupied there. A little further south, an access road is being constructed into the area beyond the River Arun which will, in years to come, be known as Highwood Village. When the High Wood interchange opens to traffic, the new entrance will become the site entrance for the next stage of development where the development of a new stone sculpture will take place, on site and involving the growing local community.2015-08-16 06.46.07

Sculpture in Horsham

2015-07-23 16.26.01The consideration of a new large public work for Horsham being created over 18 months is now more than a year away, but the thought processes turn to the district and its people past and present. I recently met some of the the new Highwood community at a Summer event hosted by Berkeley Homes and conversation turned to sculpture; existing, future; what people like and what they do not; what art does for them and for the town. One lady resident recounted her brother and sister-in-law, both sculptors in their day.
This diary aims to consider matters sculptural of interest to the town and district of Horsham.