In this project we are called upon to make a drawing which relates to its environment creating a dialogue with the space. Following the momentum of the previous project, I wanted to make a drawing in the landscape which draws attention to some aspect of that landscape and ideally draws the eye to some focal point or actually creates a focal point.
I have an environment over which I have control and with which I am deeply engaged. My garden is at a woodland edge and if designed to be wildlife friendly. In particular, I have a pond which is home to newts and other creatures including dragon and damsel flies. Grass snakes and slow worms live in the long grass.
My ambition in this project was to create something which would act as a focal point for this seat overlooking the wild life pond. In the summer, I like to sit here and watch the dragonflies, so I thought it would be interesting to use a dragonfly as the inspiration for the drawing. I could think of two different approaches, either use the shape of a dragonfly, or a wing, or the kind of arched stem on which they like to perch over the water.
A number of curved lines, arching over the water would be interesting because they would intersect and change their relationship as you moved around. They would also serve a practical purpose as the dragonflies would actually use then. However, I don’t have any material in the garden which arches like that. There is plenty of bamboo but it stays upright when cut. I have willow from basket making, which would work but is too fine to be visually assertive and is quite short.
Having played around drawing wings, supports and bodies, I settled on trying to draw a dragonfly in wire. I really like wire drawings/sculptures; they combine both linear form and mass. I have some iron wire which I considered using but, as you can see below, it disappears against the background. Instead, I selected copper wire which is recycled from some project of my husband’s. It’s fineness means that it bends very easily, you can literally draw with it, and has a beauty of its own.
Looping and twisting the wire, I was trying to retain a drawn nature by making the structure open.
Four lengths of wire were twisted together to make the wings. This was to give both structural and visual substance. I played around with internal strutting in the wing, but this looked both contrived and too loopy. To make it work I needed to cut short lengths and solder them in place, and I decided that this was too much like a model of the real thing rather than a drawing.
Having tried it in various locations around the pond, I really wanted to position it perched above the water. A bundle of willow withies was formed into a support using more wire used in a loose, non uniform way.
I also considered locating it in a field of willow stems which would repeat the shape of the bound perch and offer perches for real dragonflies. As time has gone on, the willow has sagged in spite of reinforcement.
Wire is a lovely medium to draw in and copper is really responsive. Although it slows up well in the environment, I find it too shiny and unnatural. I have sprayed it with acid and am hoping that it will eventually oxidise to a lovely green. I plan to purchase some finer iron wire to try some further drawings, and this will rust pleasingly. There is a difficult balance to be found between wire which can be worked easily and intuitively, and wire which has visual substance and presence. I would certainly have liked to have made this bigger and with more presence.
This is a drawing of a dragonfly and not a model. It is deliberately impressionistic and does not attempt to accurately represent the details of the dragonfly such as the structure of the eyes or wings but I have tried to be accurate about proportions, attitude, volume, angles of legs and wings etc. In this way, I hope that I have captured an essence.
The drawing is relevant to its location and adds a focal point currently lacking. I am in two minds about how dominant it should appear. I would have liked to have made something stronger, but I also rather like the idea that is something to be discovered rather than shouting its presence. The family have firmly declared that ‘it’s a keeper’ and they rarely offer an outright opinion on my work. Making larger art in the environment engages people and elicits a response that wall hang art doesn’t.
I am considering how a better support can be manufactured in a material which will create an arc over the pond but will not sag and which is appropriate for the environment.