Out of Studio Practice: Alice Holt

Map of Alice Holt

Map of Alice Holt

For a bit of background, Alice Holt used to supply wood to build boats in the 18th and 19th century,  but over time it grew less oaks and more conifers. Though it has been managed over time by many people it is now part of the South Downs National Park.

A day out of the studio space held a challenge for me as my passion in so far asis to work on a large scale sculptures Starway and Luma Module and often need hand and power tools in order to make my work, which is find if you have a car, or a studio set-up nearby.  Our tutors told us to take whatever it was we might need in order to further our practice in the outdoor setting. I wished all I needed was pens, paper, a camera and a notebook but I need so much more than that, so I turned up with a 20 litre bag full of hand tools, battery operated power tools and lots of screws and nails.  The rucksack was heavy and to be honest I was surprised I managed as well as I did. If I had been told I had to go on a hike with all that gear,  there is no way I would have agreed to do it, but when it comes to making art, I guess I am very driven.

I had no idea what I was going to make and could well of ended up just making a few sketches but as I walked I started to notice that people had taken the many branches that lay on the floor of the woods and lent them up against trees making a kind of shelter which I later found out are refered to as forest dens and people are actively encouraged to build them at Alice Holt.
The photo below came from Trip Advisor.






I have been toying with the idea of making walls for a while now, a reference to Trump and his obsession with the Mexican one but also all the talks of whether or not we have one between Northern and Southern Ireland. Walls it seems are the last thing we need. I have been very slowly working on an idea of turning the Statue of Liberty into a wall, at least parts of her and so I had desires on building a wall out in nature. From rocks perhaps, line drystone walling. It was when we got to base camp that I saw a forest den which is where P

people find long branches (that I assume have been cut down by the rangers so they don’t blow down in a storm) and people build small shelters out of them by leaning them up against a tree, much like a teepee.  I decided to pull down their structure and build my own structure, a wall. It felt rebellious if I am honest, it felt like I should have left it for people to enjoy but that ended up being part of the piece. It had far greater meaning that I had destroyed someone elses joy to build my political statement. Practical reasons aside, it was a convenient stash of wood it felt very symbolic. Some of the branches had finer branches coming off them and yet it was important that I took those branches off, the green shoots showed too much hope and I did not want the piece to be hopeful at all.

I had trouble securing the branches to each other and so did screw a few of the main supporting ones together. One branch fell and cut my lip but that was a minor injury compared to some I have had in the past. It was fine. I brought with me some cut out stars from another project a few of which I interwove into the structure that I built between two trees. The stars did not look right despite being made out of wood. I was also carrying with me a stars and stripes flag and so I erected that.

The work reinforced the notion that I have to physically be part of my work, I have to feel my way though it in a very hands on manner. I like feeling like I have worked my body too, strange but true all the same. I love asking myself “Would I have done if differently if I hadn’t been scared?” Sometimes the question is irrelevant as I may not have been scared at all. This time I was else I would have built it right across a pathway so the inconvenient could have been felt by others, not just those who live where walls and borders are.

This work certainly reflects the thoughts I have been having about building a wall out of the Statue of Liberty.

Going forward I would love to build more walls, maybe just randomly build them in public places out of things.

Would like to buid a real wall

Need to build this one out of matchsticks and then fuck about it about with it

Deconstruct someone eleses work

Lighting it and the idea of the Russian flag

Would love to erect it on northern/ southern Ireland boarder as they are keen on America and it would also show how messed up it all it with us leaving EU and the border problems


Look at newpaper stuff around it all


Put in photos of Peter Kennards stuff


Have been in contact with local contractors and hoping they can help me build a wall



Source: http://americandreamexhibition.org/