THE EXECUTION OF THE ARCH December 04, 2015 21:23
On the morning of Lucy Auge’s Private View for 500 Flowers I fought my way through the throng of Bath Christmas Market to the 44AD Gallery. To the fascination of the passers-by I unloaded vast bundles of freshly cut foliage, larch branches, logs, ladders, secateurs and twine.
First to be put in place were the two large logs, sourced from a fallen tree here in West Wiltshire. With the bark left to on to keep the look natural, we simply drilled three large holes in each, and inserted in to them long lengths of coppiced hazel. These were then firmly secured with small wedges at the base, so they would provide a rigid foundation for the rest of the arch. A dense covering of damp moss disguised the workings and gave the arch a platform from which to grow.
Branches of larch, replete with cones, were then individually tied on to the hazel sub-structure with my favourite Nutscene twine. We have a number of beautiful larch trees, and I carefully harvest some of their lower branches during the winter months – much easier than when they are in leaf as the needles disguise the cones, and are fiddly to remove.
It was important to make sure that the larch branches on the sides of the arch faced outwards, so that they didn’t snag on visitors as they came in and out of the exhibition. The longest branches were saved for the top of the arch, where they faced in to each other and were almost invisibly attached together to form the apex. Longer lengths of twine were tied to the carved limestone capitals on either side of the doorway to provide extra support.
Shorter lengths of an evergreen Spanish oak were then inserted, and carefully tied in, starting at the base on each side and working their way up towards the top of the doorway. Continuously standing back and observing the shape of the arch was crucial, in order to keep the symmetry and weight of the structure in balance. It was tempting to carry on adding more and more greenery, but I wanted the arch to echo the sparse, pure lines of Lucy’s drawings, and held back.
No lights, no glitter, no sparkle - just natural, foraged branches woven together to form a woodland gateway to the exhibition within.